The Malta Independent 9 December 2019, Monday

Wages

Alfred Sant MEP Thursday, 8 August 2019, 08:00 Last update: about 5 months ago

I do not believe that the issue of wage levels in Malta today was raised recently in a useful manner, politically, socially or even professionally. Still I agree that it is an issue which merits attention and study.

It seems that two, three, four... perhaps more... labour markets have developed locally. They operate according to mechanisms that are independent of each other. Yet as they continue to function, they do affect each other’s fields of action.

There exists the very high and ever rising remuneration of people having financial, digital or some other expertise – mostly foreigners.

Then you have the relatively good but stable wage levels allocated to mainly Maltese employees (though there is an incidence of foreigners) in categories of clerical and technical work. These cover both public and private sectors.

At another level, there are the wages of people in clerical sectors and placements where the technological value added is low or is of low social prestige. Here, in real terms, such wages are declining due to the arrival of foreign workers, precarious working conditions plus other factors.

Finally one finds the “wages” being earned by people who are being unscrupulously exploited, mostly imported irregular workers.

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They'll be forgotten

With time, one increasingly notes how easily come to be forgotten people who during their lifetime would have dedicated themselves in a big way to promoting strong objectives to which they were truly committed. This is not in connection with protagonists of the political scene or to some crucial sector of national society – but relates rather to other citizens who while staying outside the limelight, did their best to assiduously help reach the aims of organizations in which they were active.

You name it – band and football clubs;  religious societies; trade unions; business groupings; voluntary associations; and political parties as well, why not...?

I can mention from memory whole squadrons of men and women, now forgotten, some dead, who gave service in this way.

The pity is that it’s just as if they never existed. Yet how can society retain memories of who they were and did? It is always the case that from generation to generation, those who get forgotten are the people who gave their contribution on the basis “simply” of their individual commitment.

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Minimum taxes

The Malta government agreed that discussion about the case still being made in Europe and beyond, for a universal minimum tax to be set on corporate profits, should be held within the OECD (the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) based in Paris. Malta is not a member of the OECD.

The idea probably was that in this Organization, the push for such a minimum tax to be introduced would be gradually shunted aside. It does not seem to be in Malta’s interest for a minimum tax to come into force. Ireland... whose interests are congruent to Malta’s... appears to have made the same calculation.

However now it is emerging that the OECD discussions are edging towards an agreement among Western countries for a minimum tax that they would all charge on corporation profits. Even the US has begun to appreciate the proposal.

If this approach is sustained, it will be difficult for Malta... and Ireland... to continue to say nay.

 

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