‘We told you so,’ PN says as it reacts to IMF’s concerns on foreign labour influx

Nationalist Party spokespeople Mario de Marco and Kristy Debono say IMF’s warnings reflect Opposition’s long-held concerns on the economy and country’s reputation

Opposition MPs Kristy Debono and Mario de Marco (File photo)
Opposition MPs Kristy Debono and Mario de Marco (File photo)

The International Monetary Fund’s assessment on Malta is a reflection of concerns that have long been flagged by the Opposition, Mario de Marco and Kristy Debono said.

The Nationalist Party spokespeople noted how the IMF raised concern on the economy’s dependence on foreign labour and the country’s failure to adequately address money laundering concerns.

De Marco and Debono were reacting to the IMF’s annual mission report on Malta, which was released on Friday.

The IMF report provided the PN with a ‘we told you so’ moment, having been critical of the social impact of foreign labour and the government’s failure to take anti-money laundering concerns seriously.

The report recognised the country’s above average economic growth, which however, would moderate to 4% this year as investment is affected by global uncertainty and as private consumption moderates.

The IMF commended Malta’s prudent fiscal policy and structural reforms over the past few years that helped boost employment, build fiscal buffers and promote social cohesion.

However, it also cautioned that sustaining strong performance would require that Malta address key challenges, including addressing money laundering concerns and the social pressures caused by dependence on foreign labour.

“As the Nationalist Party has frequently remarked, although such approach [influx of foreign workers] inflates economic statistics positively, the IMF comments how this created significant pressures on housing, infrastructure and natural resources, to the detriment of the Maltese population,” the PN said.

For the past two years, the Opposition has been critical of what it describes as government’s dependence on foreign labour to boost the GDP, while putting downward pressure on wages as a result of cheap labour, higher housing rents and increased demand on public services.

De Marco and Debono noted that despite government's continuous promises that it has taken Moneyval's anti-money laundering recommendations seriously, the IMF issued another critical assessment of Malta's approach.

 They urged the government to take heed of the IMF warning that “if not tackled in a timely manner, deficiencies in Malta's AML framework could result in further pressures on correspondent banking, damage the country's attractiveness for investment and threaten financial stability”.

The PN spokespeople also noted the IMF’s positive remarks on initiatives to attract more women and elderly people to the workplace taken over the past few years and agreed with recommendations for further reforms to close the skill-gaps through innovation.

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