On Friday (today), the Chamber of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) noted “with great disappointment” MEP Alex Agius Saliba’s request to the European Commission to investigate local food importers. The SME Chamber has slammed this request by the Labour MEP and iterated that this was nothing short of trying to gain traction for the upcoming MEP elections in June 2024.
On Thursday (yesterday), he argued that due to Malta’s limitations, its size and geographic location, the country is facing “de-facto monopolies” by its own importers and distributors. Rising food prices was, and still is, a global concern mostly caused by the pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and labour shortages, among other contributing factors. Despite so, he pertains that Malta’s limitations were leading to an addition inflation rate in the country.
“Malta is not entitled to preferential treatment or assistance which could allow it to mitigate its susceptibility to external shocks in the global market,” MEP Alex Agius Saliba added.
However, the SME Chamber explained that Malta has its own set-up of authorities and “clearly defined routes” to handle concerns related to issues of competition. It emphasised that this is something that the it frequently uses to tackle abuse. Nonetheless, the SME Chamber stated that the MEP “chose to disregard” and appeal to the Commission to intervene.
“Unfortunately, it is not the first time that the SME Chamber has noted a negative attitude towards businesses by the MEP. Out of all the currently sitting MEPs, he is the only one who has never sought to engage in any contact, consult or involve the SME Chamber in any way as is his duty to do in order to represent all of Malta’s society,” it argued.
It added that MEPs are elected on a national level to represent Malta as a whole and “surely cannot disregard and work against” a main segment of society – businesses.
The SME Chamber stated that it is very surprised by “this attack” especially since Mr Agius Saliba hails from the party “who has labelled those that oust Malta’s local affairs in Brussels as traitors.”
It expressed its belief that the stance adopted by MEP Agius Saliba is “hypocritical, going against his own party’s and, what appeared to be, his own principles.”
The SME Chamber rebutted that it will not accept for Maltese businesses to “be made into scapegoats for cheap political advancements,” adding that it is clear that the request for investigation is an unwarranted attack “fuelled by a negative strategy to gain visibility” as part of the MEP election, taking place in less than a year’s time.
“We remind Mr Agius Saliba that Maltese businesses make a big chunk of the votes and his attack has bought him no favours. We believe that this attitude of cheap tactics should not be trusted,” the Chamber of SME’s concluded.
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