Malta has reacted to the government’s decision to exclude foreigners from receiving the €100 COVID-19 vouchers announced this month.
In reaction to this news, people from the foreign community, public figures, politicians and even some Maltese have spoken out against what is being seen as a discriminatory policy.
Here are some of the reactions on social media today
1. One Indian office worker accused the government of racism.
“Are we just a means to grow the Maltese economy and when the time comes, they ask us to fu*k off?” he told Lovin Malta.
“The moment I get a job in any better country or India, I am f*cking taking the first flight from this racist government.”
2. Irish woman Erika Quinn said this further divides the country.
“A lot of focus is on tax, and what as a ‘foreigner’ we do and don’t pay,” she said.
“But it goes beyond that. We are active contributing members to our society as a whole. Yes we pay tax, we also give back to the economy, we pay rent, we are members of school councils, and youth groups. We listened to the rules and stayed home cause we believe in society. Are we all in this together or not?”
3. “Is this another vote-buying scheme?” Scottish resident Leah Davies asked.
“Disappointed but not surprised seems to be the consistent reaction amongst foreigners whenever something like this happens. Personally speaking, we’ve lived here for over a decade and have paid thousands in taxes through the years, only to be treated as though we were second-class citizens at best because we’re not on the voter registry,” she told Lovin Malta.
“Discrimination in Malta doesn’t only occur in regards to skin colour, it’s something every foreigner will face regardless of how long they’ve lived here. Every other country in the EU treats its residents fairly, so why not here? Or can we call this for what it is and realise it’s just another vote-buying scheme?”
4. A German man urged other EU nationals not to spend money in Malta anymore.
“EU citizens residing in Malta: spend your money abroad as much as you can, don’t let them get your VAT!” he said.
5. Activist Cami Appelgren also spoke out.
“How is a foreigner meant to integrate into Maltese society when time after time it’s shown that no matter how many taxes you pay, or no matter what you give back to society, you simply aren’t enough?” she wrote.
6. And PN MP David Thake spoke out too.
“No vote? No voucher.”
7. Some Maltese are also against the sudden backtrack.
“I am willing to give my voucher to any non-Maltese citizen who may need it more than me or to enjoy some time with their family in this testing times,” Cuschieri wrote.
8. Journalist Matthew Caruana Galizia pointed out the irony of it all.
8. The first reaction meme has officially surfaced.
9. And the first event, too.
10. There’s even a petition set up against this exclusionary decision.
A petition calling for all Malta’s tax-paying residents to be included in the COVID-19 voucher scheme has since been launched.
“This discrimination can not be allowed to happen to those who have and still contribute continuously to the tax pool fund this scheme. Please sign and make the registered tax-paying residents’ voices be heard!” its description reads.
The reactions come after the government confirmed that foreigners living in Malta are not eligible for the scheme.
During a June announcement, Prime Minister Robert Abela said that all those over 16 who are residents will be entitled to receive €100 worth of vouchers to spend to boost the local economy post-lockdown and places licensed by the Malta Tourism Authority and those that were forced to close because of the pandemic.
However, today a spokesperson for the Prime Minister confirmed that only Maltese citizens over 16 are set to benefit from the initiative.