Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia has warned of “socio-cultural ruin” if the influx of foreign workers is not carefully managed as part of a long-term economic plan.
Addressing a business breakfast organised by the PN to mark Workers’ Day, Dr Delia highlighted figures showing that expatriate employees would account for half of the private sector within five years.
Together with wider changes in the country’s demographics, he said, this meant that Malta’s social fabric and sense of identity risked being changed beyond recognition.
“We must plan ahead to ensure that we do not draw more and more workers to Malta while losing our children overseas because they no longer recognise their country,” he said.
Dr Delia questioned whether economic growth was translating into concrete benefits for workers and their families, warning of a “culture of consumption” diminishing workers’ dignity and quality of life.
He also called for an educational shift to ensure children were taught how to think, rather than being overloaded with unnecessary information and pressures.
Foreign workers outnumber private sector - MEA
Also addressing the conference, Malta Employers Association director general Joe Farrugia said the current number of foreign workers - around 43,000 - had already outstripped the size of the entire public sector.
These demographic changes and the growth of the country’s overall population raised challenges across the board, he said, and required an integration strategy to prevent ghettoization.
Meanwhile, economist Philip von Brockdorff said that although the economy’s growth was expected to continue, wages were not increasing in line with profits, creating major challenges for low earners.
Economic growth, he said, continued to fuel the building boom and increases in property and rental prices. He called for the setting-up of a Retail Price Index to allow a proper analysis of variation in prices across localities and over time.
Dr von Brockdorff added that the ever-growing population was creating new problems in terms of transport and infrastructure.
He also warned that the country was not yet sufficiently prepared for the effect of digital innovations such as artificial intelligence on the labour market, calling for a national discussion on the subject.
Also addressing the conference were union representatives and Anne Marie Thake, head of the University of Malta’s public policy department.
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