Bernard Grech warns economic model could leave Maltese outnumbered by foreigners

Xtra on TVM | Nationalist Party leader Bernard Grech ups the ante on overpopulation caused by the rapid increase in foreign workers, accuses Prime Minister of inconsistency

Opposition leader Bernard Grech arriving at TVM studios on Monday (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Opposition leader Bernard Grech arriving at TVM studios on Monday (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

Bernard Grech has warned Maltese citizens could soon be outnumbered by non-EU nationals if government’s economic model persists.

The Opposition leader returned to the subject on Monday when interviewed on TVM’s Xtra by Saviour Balzan.

“This country has limits; limits of space, land, and population. If we continue like this, in a few years, there will be more foreigners from outside the EU than Maltese,” Grech said, adding the country was in urgent need of changing the current economic model.

His emphasis on the problems caused by the increasing foreign population appears to be the running theme the Nationalist Party will adopt in the run-up to next year’s European Parliament election. Only this week, PN MEP candidate Peter Agius posted a Facebook video of himself outside the Marsa State primary school asking whether it was fair for English to be used as a language of instruction in classrooms that host foreign children.

Expressing concern about the “sacrifice of the quality of life for citizens in the pursuit of economic growth”, Grech highlighted issues ranging from infrastructure under stress to a lack of proper waste management and overburdened power distribution network. “All this is linked to the overpopulation of the country,” he insisted.

Grech recalled his invitation to Prime Minister Robert Abela for a national conference on the population issue back in 2020 soon after he assumed the role of Opposition leader.

He hit out at Abela’s inconsistency on the issue. “It was Robert Abela who had adopted the ‘we are full’ narrative. The same man [Abela] who let a four-year-old die in the open sea because ‘we were full’ brought an influx of 30,000 foreign workers into the country,” Grech insisted.

Responding to host Saviour Balzan's question about the potential far-right ideology in his arguments, Grech clarified that he never labelled foreign workers as the enemy.

“They have no fault because they are here to find a better life, to find work. Our problem lies with those benefiting from their vulnerability and abusing their situation,” he added.

Since assuming his position as PN leader, Grech added, he made a clear distinction between acknowledging the need for foreign workers and addressing the exploitation they may face.

Reiterating what he said during his budget speech, Grech called for the development of new economic pillars, citing the PN's past success in introducing tourism, pharmaceuticals, aviation, and gaming, to provide quality jobs and reduce reliance on low-wage labour.

He urged a departure from a “bulk buying approach” emphasising the importance of quality work over cheap labour.

“If we do not make that leap, we will not move forward,” warned Grech before advocating for a comprehensive strategy for sustainable growth and fair treatment of both Maltese citizens and foreign workers.