The Malta Independent 8 March 2021, Monday

TMID Editorial: Youths and finances - Real concerns vs political rhetoric

Thursday, 21 January 2021, 08:37 Last update: about 3 months ago

A recent survey by the European Investment Bank has revealed some very interesting and at the same time worrying results, particularly with regard to youths and their thoughts on the ecomomy and their finances.

In fact, youths aged between 20 and 29 are more worried about financial crisis than they are about migration, contrary to the concerns expressed by older age groups.

Successive governments have boasted how they have worked to ensure that today’s youths are given more opportunities, stability and peace of mind when it comes to their financial affairs, but surveys keep showing that all these so-called efforts are doing little to ease their concerns.

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It is a known fact that many young couples are finding it next to impossible to be given the loans they need to purchase decent properties. This is due to the rising price of housing and also due to the fact that banks are being more stringent with their funds.

Youths may also be disillusioned by the fact that many companies cut jobs and salaries as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. While the government has done its part to help businesses retain jobs and pay their employees, many sectors of the economy saw their pay and conditions deteriorate, and several of these sectors are still a long way off from recovering.

There is also the fact that private sector salaries in Malta remain quite low when compared to the same jobs in other European countries.

These are all issues that the government must take seriously and which it must tackle, particularly the housing situation. Our youths cannot but feel discouraged after years of studying and trying to build a future when they cannot even find a decent property to live in.

The government might argue that property sales remained strong, even during the Covid-19 pandemic, but we must see who is actually buying this property. The reality on the ground shows that young people are still struggling and will continue to struggle in the foreseeable future.

The survey is also interesting with regard to the concerns shared by people from older generations about migration. While we do not know exactly when the survey was carried out, it is a fact that migration has largely stopped as a result of the pandemic and drastic decisions taken by the Maltese authorities.

Even before the pandemic hit, migration was nowhere near the numbers experienced a decade ago. Yet many people still feel that migration is one of the main threats to the country.

Perhaps this is rooted in previous experience or in a lack of education. Perhaps it comes from a deep-rooted fear of foreigners, which was strengthened by certain political rhetoric heard over the past months. Such sentiments are perhaps more understandable when expressed by people who live in areas that are more affected by migration, the fact remains that Malta is no longer facing a migration crisis. It has not been for several years, in fact.

On a positive note, the survey also showed that an increasing number of people are becoming concerned about climate change. 88% said they were in favour of stricter measures by the government in favour of climate change.

We must not forget, however, that at the end of the day, it is not only the government that has a part to play in the fight against climate change. We can, through lifestyle changes, play our part too.

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