The Malta Independent 19 November 2018, Monday

Increase in price of bread will hit the vulnerable hardest, PN, Caritas warn

Neil Camilleri Wednesday, 27 June 2018, 09:35 Last update: about 6 months ago

Society’s most vulnerable people, including the poor and those who are at risk of poverty, will be the worst hit by the impending increase in the price of bread, the Nationalist Party and Caritas have warned.

Last week, the PN media reported that the price of bread was expected to increase by 25 to 30 cents because of an increase in the international price of wheat.

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TVM later reported that 90 bakers had agreed to increase the price of large Maltese loaf by 24 cents and the price of a small loaf by 20 cents. The prices are set to increase in July.

Despite the news reports, the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for consumer affairs, Deo Debattista told this newsroom on Sunday that the consumer watchdog (MCCAA) was “not in a position to confirm about any price increase in the price of bread as it has not investigated such changes.”

Debattista also said that the authority “cannot mitigate increases in pricing in a competitive market.”

Also speaking on Sunday, Opposition Leader Adrian Delia called on the government to come up with solutions to mitigate the impending price hike.

In comments to this newspaper, the PN’s spokesperson on poverty, MP Ivan Bartolo, said pointed to the EU’s Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) for 2017, which showed that 6% of Maltese households (25,893 persons) could not afford to eat meat, chicken and fish on a regular basis.

Bartolo said the rising food prices, coupled with the low income increases, were placing the vulnerable in a more precarious state.

He quoted local statistics which show that the average price of food increased by 1.6%. Food prices in Malta are 10% higher than the EU average, the PN spokesman said. There are 18 members states where food prices are lower than in Malta, he said.

Bartolo said the increase in food prices also had to be seen in the context of the rising energy bills. The PN is currently analysing electricity bills, and has said that people are paying up to €600 extra on their bills.  

Caritas Malta Director Leonid McKay echoed Bartolo’s sentiments, saying that an increase in bread prices would always affect low-income earners, pensioners and people on social benefits.

“Food is a basic item and food prices have been going up in general, so this will not make it easier for this section of society,” McKay said.

 

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