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The inequality issue

Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Brexit and Donald Trump’s presidency are both about the demand for change. But who wants change? Certainly not those who are comfortable with the status quo.

Those who feel they have been left behind by ‘progress and prosperity’ would probably be the majority to vote for change. Some others may have felt their country’s standing in the world had been diminished by membership of a European club or others might have fallen for xenophobic anti-immigration rants.

But, above all, there is no doubt that, in most of the developed world, statistics point to the rich getting richer and the poor poorer.

Malta is no exception. Non-EU individuals buying Maltese passports and property are not really serving the common good but inflating property (or rental) prices, which then translates into general inflation.

This inflation is not reflected in matching salary and pension increases, so the pool of poor, or at risk of poverty, gets larger.

The latest suggestions by the Opposition to lower taxation for the self-employed might be a good economic idea but who is it ultimately benefitting? Certainly not those at the bottom of the social ladder.

Recent Eurostat statistics claim that almost a third of Maltese children under 17 years of age are at risk of poverty or of social exclusion. This is claimed to be higher than the European average and higher than the equivalent Maltese figure for 2010.

It seems to confirm the recent Caritas claim that poverty (as defined by modern criteria) in Malta is on the rise. And this in spite of a “booming economy”.

Both the government and the Opposition have still to put forward ideas of how they would seriously tackle increasing inequality. The political slogan – So nobody lags behind - increasingly jars so rudely and hypocritically on the ear.

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