[WATCH] Silvio Schembri apologises for ‘unfortunate’ foreign workers comments

Economy Minister Silvio Schembri has apologised for comments he made about foreigners working in Malta, says no work permits will be terminated

Economy Minister Silvio Schembri
Economy Minister Silvio Schembri
Silvio Schembri apologises for insensitive comments on foreign workers

Silvio Schembri has apologised for comments he made about foreigners working in Malta and has said that no work permits will be terminated.

On Tuesday the Economy Minister said in Parliament that foreigners with work permits who lose their jobs due to the economic impact of the coronavirus should go back to their countries.

In a video statement released Wednesday afternoon, however, the Economy Minister backtracked on his comments and said his choice of words was “unfortunate”.

“My choice of words was unfortunate and I apologise if I hurt or offended anyone. Myself and the government are united in our respect to all workers, no matter their nationality,” Schembri said.

“I would like to assure anyone who thought otherwise that we will not be terminating any permits of third-country nationals who are in employment.”

“I was neither referring to any European citizens working and living in Malta legally. I therefore urge all Maltese citizens who rent out their properties to be considerate in the present circumstances and be more flexible with rent rates until the economy regains its momentum,” he added.

Schembri’s remarks yesterday were ill-received by thousands of foreign workers who have made Malta their home over the past few years of exceptional economic growth.

His comments also prompted Equality Parliamentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar to call for “respect and empathy” for all workers.