Manufacturing sector problems costing people their jobs- De Marco

Mario de Marco says that Internet shopping cannot be blamed for recent declines in shop sales

PN deputy leader Mario de Marco
PN deputy leader Mario de Marco

People are losing jobs as a result of problems in the manufacturing sector, PN deputy leader Mario de Marco said.

“Exports in the electronic sector have decreased by 24% in the first few months this year. Exports from the pharmaceutical sector have decreased by 20% and exports by the printing and recorded media sector have decreased by 15%,” de Marco said in parliamentary Budget debate on the economy. “Employment and hours worked in the electronic and pharmaceutical sectors have decreased by small percentages, but employment in the printing sector has dropped by 12% while working hours in that sector have decreased by 5%.”

“[Economy Minister] Chris Cardona had said that one factory was responsible for the statistics that indicated problems in the manufacturing sector,” de Marco said. “Apart from the factory in question being one of Malta’s largest factories, the problem is an across-the-board one.”

He cited recent European statistics that show that Malta’s exports dropped by 27% between January and June this year when compared to the corresponding period last year, a higher rate than any other European country.

“I didn’t come here to attack the government but to speak about a problem that we need to address.

While de Marco admitted that the government was not to blame for the drop in exports, he warned that it would become their fault if they stick their heads in the sand and not take the necessary remedies to tackle this problem,

‘Don’t blame Internet shopping for drop in shop sales’

De Marco said that Malta’s drops in retail trade cannot be blamed on the increasing popularity of Internet shopping.

“Internet shopping goes on in every European country and their retail trade didn’t suffer as much as ours,” he said.

Recent statistics show that Maltese retail sales in October this year dropped at a higher rate than any other European countries when compared to October 2013. Indeed it was the only European member state, besides Slovenia, whose retail trade rates decreased during that period.

De Marco questioned the government’s decision to impose taxes on wine and fish food and to increase the fees of ‘certain’ government services without giving an explanation as to which services will be affected. He also criticised the Budget for not allocating more marketing funds to the Malta Tourism Authority so that it would be able to attract more tourists during the winter months.

“Budgets should provide a sense of economic direction about where the government plans to take the country,” de Marco said. “This Budget failed to identify new economic niches, such as in the creative sector, that the government plans to develop for the future.”