Pandemic-induced disruptions to the global supply chain and the UK’s departure from the EU single market have led to a spike in prices in certain goods in Malta, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana has admitted.
Caruana was questioned today by PN media house NET on whether the government intends to step in to address an increase in the cost of living.
However, he argued that the issue was out of his control as prices have gone up due to two major global developments- namely COVID-19 and Brexit.
“The pandemic disrupted the global supply chain, which means the supply of certain goods was low when demand increased again,” Caruana said.
“For example, when construction stopped around the world, the supply of steel declined. Now that the construction industry has recovered, there isn’t enough steel to make good for the demand. How can the government solve a global challenge like this?”
With regards to Brexit, he noted that Malta imports several products from the UK and that the reintroduction of excise taxes resulted in an increase in prices.
“If one thinks they can ignore or sideline these issues, they will be doing a disservice and showcasing a law of intelligence and maturity in the subject,” he said.
“I think I’d be taking people for a ride if I tell them I can do something about certain global developments as Finance Minister. People who talk like that are just talking to the crowds but I always give factual responses.”
“We’re part of the world like everyone else and certain things take time to solve.”
A number of PN politicians have started flagging cost of living increases in recent days.
New candidate Alex Borg said his house visits to Gozitan constituents, particularly pensioners, made him more than conscious than ever of how the cost of living is leaving a negative impact.
“When you talk to families, you realise that weekly expenses for essential food and basic medicines have increased by between €10 and €12,” he said. “With tears in her eyes, an elderly woman told me that she can no longer afford to give her grandchildren a bit of money when they visit her.”
“Moreover, some people have to pay their rent every month, over and above water and electricity bills and other essential things.”
He urged the government to clamp down on “dirty contracts that are fleecing taxpayers dry” and use that money to help people cope with cost of living concerns.
“It means nothing for people close to Castille who earn €100,000 a year, but for the majority of people it’s a plague that the government has caused.”