Malta’s economy is going to suffer a tremendous blow. People are losing part-time or full-time jobs by the hundreds, others on zero hours contracts are penniless, businesses are closing down forever and others are scaling down dramatically.
Normal honest working residents risk becoming homeless and honest shopkeepers risk closing down their business because they cannot afford paying the exorbitant rents they are supposed to pay.
The world over, governments are taking it upon themselves to pay from 50 per cent to 80 per cent of private salaries in order to ease the pain, which will last for long.
In Malta, we have nothing of the sort. Our prime minister seems to be more intent on protecting people like Joseph Muscat and Keith Schembri than of protecting the economic well- being of the Maltese people.
Flanked by the insecure Edward Scicluna and by his arrogant, insensitive Economy Minister Silvio Schembri, Robert Abela trumpeted a €1.8 billion rescue package for the Maltese ailing economy. When we examined it, we found out that in reality, it was no more than €210 million, with the other €1.6 billion being loans and guarantees.
What hurt nearly even more than the paucity of such a rescue package was the way in which Abela treated us as morons, believing that we are not capable of counting from one to 1,800 million. A veritable slap in the face to our intelligence.
It is said that a third economic package is to be announced any time now. Let’s hope it will be more geared to what the economy needs right now and will safeguard people’s jobs.
In Malta, we cannot even rely on the solidarity of our billionaires. In Italy it has been a rat race between the various Pavarotti, Berlusconi, Armani, Benetton and Agnelli families in order to donate tens of millions to try and help out in this global crisis.
We cannot rely on the government or on greedy billionaires, whose only God is money
And in Malta? Some small hotel owners have been generously offering free rooms to employees and medics. But where are the Tumases, Gasans, Captain Morgans, Portellis tal-Quaint? Nowhere to be seen.
It seems they are only good at milking the Maltese people, depriving us of our public land and seas, changing non-building areas into building zones in order for them to build their glorious ‘iconic’ towers.
The state is not there. The billionaires neither.
We should therefore take things into our hands. Property owners with a heart should decrease rentals by at least 30 per cent for the length of the crisis in order to alleviate the pain of residents, families and small businesses. Some have already started doing this.
University pro-rector Godfrey Baldacchino has suggested we salaried people should cut our salaries by 20 per cent in order to contribute to our collective survival. I agree on the principle. But certainly not on the flat rate for all that he is proposing.
Why should a €1,000 a month earner give up the same percentage as Labour Party stooges, such as Kurt Farrugia, Johann Buttigieg, Frederick Azzopardi and James Piscopo, who earn €100,000+/- salaries, given out to them from our collective taxes just because they happen to be faithful servants of their political masters?
My proposal is that yes, we should give up part of our salaries. But the burden should be by using a sliding-scale model. Excluding pensioners and people with a disability, all salaried people should give up a part of their salary, according to the following parameters.
Earners over €100,000 per year, give up 40% of their salary; those earning from €80,000 to €100,000 give up 35%; those earning €60,000 to €80,000 give up 30%; those in the €50,000 to €60,000 bracket give up 25%; those earning €40,000 to €50,000 give up 20%; those in the €30,000 to €40,000 bracket give up 15%; those in the €20,000 to €30,000 bracket give up 10%; those earning €15,000 to €20,000 give up five per cent. Those under €15,000 euro salary, do not give up anything.
What do you think?
Malta is not a normal country. The ethical crisis brought upon us by our greedy and irresponsible politicians and their associates has infected Malta much worse than coronavirus ever can.
We cannot rely on the government or on greedy billionaires, whose only God is money.
But we definitely can rely on the big hearts of the many honest Maltese and foreign residents who have a social heart and conscience.
Are we ready to set up this voluntary salvation fund for our country?
Godfrey Baldacchino is ready. I am too. Are you?
Arnold Cassola is former secretary general of European Green Party
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