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40,000 more foreign workers 'unsustainable' - PN

Party raises concerns on government’s reliance on foreign workers

The Nationalist Party has branded government’s plan to sustain economic growth by bringing over some 40,000 workers in the next four years as “unsustainable”.

Such approach would have a detrimental impact on the Maltese in terms of accommodation, the environment and wages, the party said.

The concerns were raised in a news conference addressed by Nationalist MPs Kristy Debono and Ivan Bartolo.

Their remarks came back on the heels of a statement issued on Tuesday by the Federation of Estate Agents which warned that Maltese tenants would end up homeless if government forged ahead with its plan bring over 60,000 workers.

According to the Federation, the existing stock of vacant properties was not enough even when considering apartments still under construction. The existing shortage was resulting in a bidding war, in which Maltese tenants were constantly being outpriced, the federation said.

In view of this it called on the government for emergency social housing, to avoid a “disaster”.

In her remarks, Ms Debono this afternoon questioned government’s policy on various fronts. “What is the target population? What studies have been carried out in terms of rent rates, accommodation, environment and wages?” she questioned.

The MP noted that rapid population growth was a short-term measure in terms of economic growth, which would have long-term repercussions.

She added that since 2014, rent rates had more than doubled and increased by 150 per cent, while one in every 10 living in rented property was defaulting on the monthly payments.

Ms Debono pointed out that the increase in the rent rates was also denting Malta’s competitiveness as it was fuelling demands for higher wages.

Mr Bartolo also addressed the news conference and focused on the social aspects, particularly the housing problem. He said that an increasing number of people were ending up living in a one-car garage after being priced out.

He added that the Labour government was yet to build one social housing unit after five years in power, while the apartments under construction were still a long way from completion.

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