PM says COLA will be 'substantially' more than in previous years, same mechanism to remain

Robert Abela says that Malta will still have its national airline

Prime Minister Robert Abela (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Prime Minister Robert Abela (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

Prime Minister Robert Abela said that the cost of living adjustment(COLA) for next year’s budget will be “substantially” more than in previous years and that the same mechanism will remain in place.

Interviewed on One Radio on Saturday morning Abela said that the 2023 budget will be based on the principles of responsibility and sustainability.

The Prime Minister said it was essential for the government to intervene and help those on the lower end of the economic spectrum. “The chances are that without a social safety net, those that were held back the most will take much longer to recover,” Abela said.

He thanked the social partners for their recommendations for the next budget, saying that they showed great maturity and responsibility, and acknowledged the current international challenges.

Abela said however that the cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) mechanism, as agreed with the social partners, will not be modified and that the amount will be substantially more than in previous years.

The COLA for the previous two years was of €1.75.

In its pre-budget document the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry proposed that employees that receive a pay rise in 2022, should not receive the full COLA increment, but only the difference between the COLA increment and their pay rise.

For those who were recruited during the year, the COLA entitlement should be capped at the equivalent portion of the year for which they have been in employment, the chamber said.

Malta will still have a national airline

Abela said that as promised in the electoral manifesto, Malta will still have its national airline.

He acknowledged that Air Malta was facing a number of challenges, mentioning the exponential rise in fuel prices and the pandemic restrictions as contributors to those challenges.

Abela also said that decisions taken by the management of the airline over the decades were not in the best interest of the airline. “Purchases made by Air Malta prior to 2013 were not in the best interest of the company.”

He said that his government will be safeguarding the livelihood of former and current Air Malta employees and that they will not pay the price for the structural reforms being implemented.

On 14 January, government announced it would create a voluntary employee transfer scheme in a bid to cut Air Malta’s workforce by half and save €15 million per year in wages as part of a restructuring exercise.

MaltaToday revealed how a mid-August deadline for the transfer scheme to be completed has been moved to October, because airline bosses fear the exodus would hamper day-to-day operations.