Finance Minister Clyde Caruana warned on Tuesday that Malta must be “prepared for what's to come” as he recalled the bulk-buying of food during the Gulf war in the early 1990s saying the same thing is happening now.

Opening the debate on the Jobsplus Financial Estimates in parliament, Caruana said Russia's war on Ukraine could go on for “years”.

“The coming days, weeks, months and even years will go down in history, and historians will mark this time as a time of massive change in Europeans' way of life,” he said on Tuesday.

He blamed inflation on three factors: quantitative easing (printing money), the Russian-Ukrainian war and the pandemic.

The war, Caruana said, is directly impacting Malta.

“As a small island in the Mediterranean, decisions taken by larger countries affect us,” he said. 

“What is happening around us is not something that will finish next week, or the month after... everyone is prepared for a long war.”

He said the war will cause economic struggles for the working and middle classes in Europe. There is destabilisation and prices will explode, he added.

Sanctions not having desired effect

Caruana also questioned the effectiveness of European sanctions.

"The point of a sanction is to hurt someone, but are these sanctions hurting that actual person, or are they also hurting workers and families? If we look at the numbers, we see that the people in the countries imposing the sanctions are being affected more than those in the country on which they are imposed," Caruana argued.

He said he understood that people were facing a tough situation with prices rising daily and recalled a similar situation during the Gulf war in the early 1990s when his mother used to bulk buy food.

“The same thing is happening now. This is the reality we are facing, and we must be prepared for it,” he said.

“When you have two giants banging their heads in conflict, it is the smaller countries that must pay for the consequences.”

He said now is the time for everyone to work together to understand how best to prepare the island for what is to come. 

“We must protect and secure our workers, our labour market, our standard of living... and we must make sure the Maltese people do not get to bear the brunt of decisions taken by larger European countries," the minister said.

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