Jobs are not an issue, but salaries are

Needed: new economic sectors, which pay well

Despite government’s aggressive propaganda, not everyone has the luxury of having a stable financial income – and that to put it mildly. Government prides itself on lowering unemployment – and that’s a fact confirmed by local and European data. Jobs are not an issue – changing jobs is not an impossible feat for many, especially the young and the middle aged. But salaries are, for their strength is not what government makes them to be.

Latest European data confirms a worrying trend: for whilst unemployment is low, the Maltese have amongst the lowest salaries across the European Union. It’s worrying, because low salaries have a deep impact on families and their standard of living.

It’s common knowledge that the construction and the catering industries are in dire need of employees. Hundreds, if not thousands of foreigners are being imported to make up for demand. Their salaries are very often low, and so are those of their Maltese counterparts. The former often accept inferior working conditions, and salaries, which the latter too have to bear.

There are economic sectors which pay well – the financial and gaming industry being the most cited examples. But very often it’s the most academically qualified who get the better salaries. And then no new economic sectors have been created – which is a primary cause of concern although, unfortunately, tragic in the long term – government does not seem to be worried about it. The Muscat administration has opted for the short-term results – dishing out building permits which, in the short term, drive business and create jobs. The cash-for-passport scheme is another short-term measure which yields significant amounts of cash for government coffers. However, neither of the two can be sustained in the long term. Sadly this translates in today’s low salaries and, if unchecked, points to an uncertain, economic future.

Today’s robust financial services, gaming, technology, tourism, maritime, and the aviation industries are the result of long-term planning two decades ago. They must be sustained in the long term, adapted for today’s and tomorrow’s needs, bettered and at times re-thought, whilst new industries must be created.

More often than not, families lament about low wages, and questionable working conditions – whilst young parents express their concerns about tomorrow for if the current trend persists, their children face an uncertain future. This is not to paint a bleak picture of Malta’s economic situation. Low unemployment means that more people have a job – and an income, however government cannot take comfort in thinking that a job automatically translates into a good economic situation within our households.

Pensions too need to be looked at. Thousands of pensioners are striving to make ends meet. It’s been a long time coming, but solutions need to be found now. A couple living on a pension of barely six hundred Euros, from which they have to pay for their daily needs – basic stuff, including medicines – are going through financial difficulties. If they rent their residence, then they’re on the verge of poverty. By time, it will only get worse; unless prompt action is taken.

Government needs to pull up its socks and plan for tomorrow. Short-term gains have always resulted in future malaise. For the benefit of tomorrow’s generation, this must not happen.


Frank Psaila presents Iswed fuq l-Abjad on Net TV

More in Blogs