Wheat importers have reached an agreement with the government to ensure secure supply and price stability, Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Saturday. 

Speaking during a Labour Party election political event in Gzira, Abela said the government would soon be providing “liquidity” to importers as well as providing facilities for wheat storage at the Corradino wheat terminals. 

“We have taken the necessary steps to ensure security of supply for basic food products for the months ahead,” Abela said. 

He did not say how much this financial assistance the government was providing would amount to. Nor did he provide any other details of the talks with importers of wheat and cereals. 

The island’s food supply has been an issue of concern in recent weeks as the Russian invasion of Ukraine has sparked global fears of shortages of basic products.  

Earlier this month, Malta’s biggest importer of grains warned of the possibility that other countries will start to restrict exports to the island, as the war in Ukraine chokes global supplies.

The Malta Chamber of Commerce then added its voice, warning that imports of key commodities to Malta from Ukraine and Russia are critical, with certain products highly exposed to shortages and price hikes.

Products Malta imports from Ukraine include oats, maize starch and crude sunflower-seed oil, each making up over 80 per cent of total imports.

On Saturday, Abela said shortages of these products could have had a major impact on the prices consumers had to pay locally. It could have also impacted other local industries such as herding.  

“This is why it is so important to have a government that knows what it is doing, that has the experience, and the proven track record where it counts,” Abela said.  

Earlier during Saturday evening’s event, Abela said Labour is pledging improved in-work benefits, child allowances, and reformed tax bands that would put give some families an added income of around €6,800 over the course of a legislature.  

On the other hand, these same families do not know where they stand with the Nationalist Party, Abela said. 

The Labour leader said that, according to his estimations, as much as 96% of workers would be worse off with the PN’s proposals. He did not explain how he arrived at this figure.   

The PL’s manifesto, he said, is “doable” and "costed". 

Abela closed off with an appeal to voters to collect their voting documents before it is too late.  

Earlier this week, chief electoral commissioner Joseph Camilleri said some 37,000 voting documents had not yet been collected.  

'Ex-Nationalist' voting Labour

Before Abela addressed the crowd, a cancer survivor and self-proclaimed ex-Nationalist said she would be voting Labour for the first time.  

Antonella Roggers, 40, recalled how, when she was battling cancer, she had received calls of encouragement and support from PL members and ministers who “didn’t look at political colours”. 

“They saw only my health and for that I am thankful,” she said. 

Roggers then alluded to when former PN general secretary Louis Galea had described the PL as cancer, saying she was hurt when some had used cancer as a political ploy. 

“We are living in a democratic society and one where you should express yourself without fear. I am not an opportunist as some said, but an ex-nationalist and I will be voting Labour for the first time,” she said. 

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