Malta’s continued population growth, largely due to an increasing rate of foreign workers, is seriously harming the quality of life of the Maltese, Opposition leader Adrian Delia warned today.
“Foreigners aren’t coming to Malta because we’re investing in projects or because we need skill transfers,” Delia said in Parliament. “[Prime Minister] Joseph Muscat’s foreigners are the project because he has no other project to develop Malta.”
Delia recounted how Muscat himself had warned of the risk of foreigners competing with Maltese people for labour, back in 2002 when he was campaigning against Malta’s EU accession.
“I think Muscat has locked that speech in a box because the government’s cry nowadays is that we need more foreigners to increase pensions, to build a metro and a tunnel, to expand the economy. Every problem is solved by pointing fingers at others.”
He dismissed suggestions that the high rate of immigration to Malta is due to the island’s EU accession, noting that the rate of migration from non-EU countries is increasing, from 30% of all migrants in 2016 to 55% last year.
And he quoted a Central Bank report, which said a relatively large proportion of EU migrants tend to be high-skilled while a larger proportion of third country nationals tend to be low-skilled, with over 30% engaged in elementary occupations.
“The increase we’re witnessing isn’t due to skills transfers; these people aren’t bringing the skills and experiences we need for our economy to flourish. This isn’t investment, this isn’t something we need to finish something, but a sign by the government that this is the only way it can expand the economy.”
The Opposition leader compared the Maltese economy to an expanding household which charges every new resident the same amount of money in rent.
“If the household goes from ten to fifteen people, the income will improve. However, these new people will also eat and make a mess, and the quality of life of the original residents will decline.”
Delia noted that Maltese salaries only increased by 1.1% in the second quarter of this year, way below the EU average of 3.1%.
“The economy is supposed to have grown by 5% so if it’s expanding at such a rapid pace, it certainly isn’t being reflected in our workers’ income,” he said.