PN warns that ‘unsustainable’ foreign influx raising housing prices for Maltese

Economic growth through population increase is not sustainable, Kristy Debono says

PN shadow minister for the economy Kristy Debono and MP Ivan Bartolo
PN shadow minister for the economy Kristy Debono and MP Ivan Bartolo

The Nationalist Party’s shadow minister for the economy has contended that the government’s plan to fuel economic growth with an increase in foreign labour was unsustainable.

Kristy Debono said the increase of foreign workers, bolstered by recent suggestions from national employment agency Jobsplus that 40,000 workers would have to be imported to Malta, would harm housing prices.

Debono said the large influx of people was leaving a bad effect on Maltese rents and product prices.

"This is a result of the government’s lack of economic planning… The prices of residential accommodation have increased at an alarming rate in the last three years, increasing by at least more than half," Debono said.

READ ALSO: Jobsplus CEO pours cold water on claims of foreign worker-driven evictions

She added that it is becoming impossible for Maltese people to become homeowners. "People with minimum to medium wage cannot afford to be homeowners anymore, and rent prices have drastically increased so much that one in every 10 people is falling behind on rent payments."

Debono said that there was also a higher risk of landlords increasing rent prices or removing tenants. “The government has decided to tackle economic problems by increasing the country’s population instead of being ‘cutting-edge’ and properly looking at the problems at hand… Around 10,000 people migrant to Malta each year. This adds up to 5% of Malta’s working population being foreigners.”

While population increase seems to result in economic growth on paper, it was not sustainable as it is leading to a drastic increase of rent and product prices, she said. “We are asking the Labour party: what are the government’s goals for the country’s population? What studies are being done about the effects of population on rent prices, infrastructure, environment, waste and wages?”

Debono said wages in Malta were only increasing by 0.6%, a figure which shows Malta’s economic growth was not being enjoyed by Maltese people equally.

Nationalist MP Ivan Bartolo also said NSO statistics also show that financial poverty was increasing by 8,200 in five years. “The National Party believe that Maltese and Gozitan people should be able to be owners of their own houses,” Bartolo said. “The government should also be helping such people by building housing estates. How is the government helping these people until a housing estate is built?”

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