The Malta Independent 17 May 2022, Tuesday

Cost of living surge

Rachel Borg Saturday, 22 January 2022, 08:27 Last update: about 5 months ago

Statistics are not really going to accurately describe the reality of the cost of living in Malta.

For a more realistic picture we need to trust our senses and our instincts.  They tell us that the grocery bill we just paid was significantly more expensive than that of a year ago, a month ago or even yesterday.

As we pocket our change from the cashier, we pause for a moment, cast our gaze over the items purchased, the total charge on the display of the cash register and the change in our hands, or the chit from the debit card transaction.

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Once home, we unpack our items and can hardly accept that they are so few.  The bread we bought is nearly 4 euros.  The 4 marrows are over 5 euros.  Other daily needs, nothing extravagant make up the rest.  They said that eggs had not increased in price but the store manager said he is paying 10c more to the supplier for them. 

But that is just the shopping.  ARMS bills have a life of their own.  They are gymnasts, full of contortions.  Trying to make head or tail of them, contacting ARMS billing department leads to nearly nothing.  Same email over and over again.  If you want to actually speak to a billing agent to try to resolve the issue once and for all, it’s not possible.  They are told to call you back but that never happens.  Same goes with social services.

What is all the inaccessibility about with government departments or services?  Shouldn’t we have a right to speak to a senior clerk or official if a problem has been dragging on and we are not satisfied with the response to-date?  It wastes everybody’s time going round in circles.  But all customer care is now a Fort Knox around its staff.

If you have a rent to pay, for your flat or house, you will soon be reconsidering your location in an effort to reduce the rental cost. 

The number of families making use of the Valletta Victory kitchen is 23,964 and the meals served total 127,834 since its commencement.  Their mission is:   A food charity operating through a network of local restaurants, social workers, and logistics companies. Joining forces to create a sustainable and long-term plan of delivering food to those families hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Victory Kitchen translates humble food into hope, faith, and courage for those who might otherwise remain hungry.”

The Valletta Soup Kitchen run by the Franciscan order has fed 8,600 people in 4 months.  More than 30,000 meals were served by the Soup Kitchen OFM. The data shows that two out of every three guests are male, with the majority being adult and Maltese (91%).  People come to the kitchen from all over the island. 

It may be time to study where the greatest need is being felt and since users come from various towns choosing some logistical sub-locations for the kitchen will ease the demand in Valletta.

Who knows, too, how many mothers and fathers are making sacrifices to feed their children or keep them warm?

If Robert Abela is able to state, without any shame whatsoever, that no breach of rule of law has taken place under him, then I expect he will equally say that no child is going hungry.  Facts say otherwise and so does, again, the instinct. 

The state of denial is endemic.  Criminals are protected.  Lies are propagated and reports are fictitious.  In the meantime, making ends meet is becoming a veritable struggle.  The enforced crackdown on VAT and Income Tax arrears is adding pressure to an already difficult financial situation.  This whilst direct orders get thrown about like free meals and those who stole millions from our taxes are exempt from accounting for them.

The cost of living increase of €1.75 a week is, of course, like the drop of rain water that is lost into the sea.  In the past, with all the reliance on imported employed persons, there was some reasoning in keeping the minimum wage below cost of living but now it is clear that in itself it is holding back foreigners from returning to jobs in Malta.  The gap between affordability and income has widened to an extent that our country is once again falling in the indexes and losing its name for good quality life. 

Health and medical expenses, heating, entertainment, education and sports are all being driven up by rising costs to providers.  Fuel costs affect food production and transport. At a time when we most can do with non-imported products and food, our agricultural industry is being gradually marginalized. 

A global society is giving way to a national one and a secularized one to a more social-minded one. 

People are sensing and experiencing more and more, how out of touch this organization run by Robert Abela is.  At such of time of need, reading about salaries of €163,000 going to the CEO of the Foundation of Medical Services and Karl Stagno Navarra raking it in with Air Malta, on top of the billions that corruption is costing us, is just archaic.  Why does the country always have to fall back into the pits with Labour?  When have they ever led Malta to a better place?  They give the impression that they are way ahead in public policy, with all their bogus civil rights and all the while they drag us into the swamp from where it is indeed difficult to emerge again.

Whoever is complicit in seeing this state of affairs persist ad nauseum and our economy become a cog in the wheel of corruption and abuse, should wake up and spare a thought for those who do not ask for much but who deserve dignity and a decent living.

This pinch is being felt even now, with our social life having taken a hit with Covid and extra costs like private lessons for children or gym having been cut back for the last years.  The pressure that existed pre-Covid was being masked by a false positive of the few and the kind of social media that left no space for the truth. 

Ian Borg may insist on his yacht marina, construction may fool with high rise buildings and luxury apartments and roads can jam with traffic but that does not mean that we are living well and reaching our goals for life, modest as they may be.

Important decisions need to be taken and a responsible and mature, intelligent and honest administration put in place to address the rise in the cost of living before it is too late.

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