The Malta Independent 23 April 2024, Tuesday
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Hundreds were coming to Malta despite not being needed in the workforce prior to reforms – Abela

Sabrina Zammit Friday, 19 January 2024, 13:53 Last update: about 4 months ago

Prior to the temping agency reform there were hundreds of applicants from outside of Malta who were applying to come to the country without necessarily being needed for the workforce, Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Friday.

Asked about these agencies by the media, Abela said that prior to the reform, it was clear that these agencies were not regulated. “Was it acceptable for anyone to just wake up one day and open a temping agency?,” he questioned.

An exercise prior to the reform being implemented showed that not only were the workers coming to Malta not necessary required, but they also lacked qualifications, Abela said.

Moreover, the Prime Minister explained that this study found situations where these workers were coming to Malta with a work contract “however when you investigate what was behind it, you find nothing. They came to Malta, supposedly employed however they were not.”

He said that despite some not being happy about the reform, it was necessary in order to drastically decrease such abuses.

Tied to the subject of the temping agencies, the Prime Minister also spoke of how the government listened to the nation when it introduced the skills card.

Speaking about the currently ongoing process for the cards to be available for people wishing to work in the hospitality sector, Abela said that it was “necessary for the industry as part of the country’s diverse economy.”

He said that since Malta is promoting quality tourism, “it does not make sense for whoever is giving a service [within the tourism industry] to have quantity without the quality,” adding that this is the reason behind any foreigner needing this card in order to work within this industry.

“For example; we cannot have a frustrating situation where the server is serving food without having an idea of what is on the menu,” he said.

Abela was also asked about the newly launched scheme to reduce prices of basic food items by 15% till the next Budget.

Commenting on this, the Prime Minister said that when it comes to the biggest food importers for Malta and supermarket owners “almost everyone participated” in the agreement, adding that whoever is eligible is still welcome to do so as well.

He also reiterated that the scheme will also include a fixed grant of €125 under certain terms and conditions to smaller retailers as compensation for each month of their participation in the scheme.  This applies to businesses not exceeding €800,000 in sales in the year 2022.

Abela confirmed that up until Thursday, the day when the agreement was signed, there were a total of 200 confirmed establishments who were part of the scheme and that the government is seeing interest in participation growing.

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