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PN blasts new social assistance scheme as a ‘joke’

Opposition MP Paula Mifsud Bonnici says new social assistance scheme to 41,000 vulnerable people will only see each person given 61c a month

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono
12 October 2016, 6:08pm
Opposition MPs Stephen Spiteri, Paula Mifsud Bonnici and Robert Cutajar
Opposition MPs Stephen Spiteri, Paula Mifsud Bonnici and Robert Cutajar
The Nationalist Party has lashed out at the government for “rubbing salt in the wounds of the most vulnerable people” after it announced that it will spend around €300,000 in social assistance on 41,000 people in need of immediate assistance over the next year.

“Instead of extending a hand of solidarity to the most vulnerable people, the government is laughing in their faces and throwing salt on their wounds,” shadow social policy minister Paula Mifsud Bonnici told a press conference. “Essentially, this scheme means that the government will give 61c a month to each of these 41,000 people, which isn’t even enough to purchase a packet of pasta.”

The social assistance scheme was announced on Tuesday by social solidarity minister Michael Farrugia, as a measure to combat poverty in the country.

Mifsud Bonnici said that poverty has increased under the Labour government – from 88,000 people under the previous PN administration to 94,000 now.

She said that a future PN adminisration will reverse social housing rent hikes introduced by the Labour administration, remove income tax on pensions, increase pensions, and give pensioners free medicines. 

“Pensions must increase to reflect what pensioners need to live a normal and decent life,” she said when asked how much they should increase by. “The time has also come to stop discriminating between pensioners as happened in the last Budget, when only contributory pensions increased.”

Oppositon MP Stephen Spiteri warned of a shortage of high-quality jobs on the island.

“The governemnt likes boasting that unemployment is low, but when you dig deeper, you find out that several people are working in low-paying jobs.

Opposition MP Robert Cutajar criticised the government for changing the Meals on Wheels service, delivering frozen food –rather than cooked meals - to pensioners.

“The government is giving these elderly people more work to do, forcing them to cook these meals themselves,” he said.