Speaking at a debate organised by The Malta Chamber, Finance and Employment Minister Clyde Caruana delivered a sobering message on the Russian war on Ukraine, and its impact on Malta, telling the audience:
“The war in Ukraine concerns me more than COVID did, economically speaking,” he told the panel, hosted by The Malta Chamber’s Rachel Attard.
Elaborating on this point, he said he was not trying to spread fear, but stressed that the war is not just being fought using weapons and bombs, but is also an economic war.
Indeed, the EU and US have instituted sweeping sanctions against Russia and Belarus over the invasion of Ukraine, intended to cripple both countries economies. The attack also led to some two million refugees fleeing from Ukraine, according to the United Nations, and, being that it is a major exporter of wheat and cereal, this is causing runaway inflation on staple food products consumed across Europe.
Explaining further, he said that in last year’s budget, Government earmarked €200 million in anticipation of rising prices, including food prices, as a result of COVID and the resulting supply chain challenges that were being faced across the globe.
“In this week alone, we estimate that the war on Ukraine will cost Malta some €200 million,” the Minister revealed.
“We have to do whatever it takes to save our economy,” he said, adding that the nobody knows how long the war will last, and how much more funds will have to be spent.
He stressed that Government will “cushion the blow” by ensuring water, electricity and fuel prices remain unchanged throughout this year.
PN candidate Graham Bencini, also present on the panel, said the Opposition party had a track record of leading during crisis, as it had kept the country stable throughout the 2008 global recession.
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