Minimum wage, pensions and social benefits not guaranteeing a decent living - ADPD

The Green Party says that the current crisis could also serve as an opportunity to improve the environmental situation of the country

ADPD says that the current crisis should provide for an opportunity to apply subsidies better (Photo: ADPD)
ADPD says that the current crisis should provide for an opportunity to apply subsidies better (Photo: ADPD)

ADPD – The Green Party said that the minimum wage, pensions and social benefits are not guaranteeing a decent living, and are not reflective of the current rate of inflation.

During a press conference in front of Parliament on Saturday morning, ADPD Chairperson Carmel Cacopardo said that the increase in the cost-of-living was being felt by all, despite the subsidies granted.

He said that many could not afford to wait another six months to receive the relative Cost of Living adjustment (COLA).

“There is absolutely no justification to wait till the end of the year for those living on the minimum wage, a pension or social benefits to be able to make essential purchases,” Cacopardo said.

He said that the current crisis will be a “prolonged one”, providing for an opportunity to consider whether subsidies should, in the long term be better applied, in particular those applied to petrol, diesel and electricity.

“International prices will remain high for the foreseeable future. While it is imperative that basic domestic electricity consumption should remain subsidised, other subsidies for electricity and fuel usage should be considered better," Cacopardo said.

Cacopardo said that there are better ways to reduce the burden people were facing. He argued that if fuel subsidies were removed, this could less to a reduction of cars on the road, leading to a greater use of public transport and better air quality.

“The current crisis therefore becomes an opportunity to reduce our dependence on private vehicles, increased investment in safe roads for clean energy transportation methods, and more bus lanes,” Cacopardo said, adding that this was a perfect time to set up a bus rapid transit scheme with special bus routes.

“This is an opportunity that can lead to substantial environmental benefits that should not be missed,” Cacopardo concluded.

ADPD Deputy Chairperson Sandra Gauci emphasized that the increase in the cost of living was hitting hard, in spite of Malta having one of the lowest rates of inflation.

“One-off assistance is not enough. There is the need for an instrument that is more robust to sustain those who are downtrodden, pensioners, those on the poverty line that are increasing day by day,” Gauci said.

She said this was why ADPD was insisting that COLA should not be delayed till the end of the year.

“We would have expected that a serious government would have raised the minimum wage, pensions and social benefits from the 1st of July in order to minimise the impact of what we are going through,” Gauci said.

She argued that it was imperative that the minimum wage, as well as pensions and social benefits ensured a decent living. Gauci added that those dependent on minimum wage, pensions or social benefits need assistance imminently and not in six months’ time.

“We are astonished that a government that claims to be inspired by social democratic principles does not take immediate steps to ensure that wages and pensions are adequately to assure a decent living,” Gauci said, remarking that government did not mention this issue in its social vision for the next 15 years.