In his post-budget press conference Prime Minister Robert Abela highlighted that the Government is aware of a few food importers that are profiteering by increasing prices, over and above the increased cost, a practice which he described as “unacceptable” and “short-sighted”.
Prime Minister Abela remarked, however, that the Government gave its full assistance during hard times, including during and after the pandemic, and that it is expecting food importers to act in good faith, towards businesses and citizens.
He stated that he will be firm with those who abuse and will only be tolerating those who register legitimate and justified profits, “and not the few whose actions impact a lot of people.”
In comments made to BusinessNow.mt, Abigail Agius Mamo, CEO of the Chamber of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) says that the organisation agrees with the Government’s proposal to discuss the matter and appeal for responsibility with food importers.
She also made reference to pre-budget meetings that the SME Chamber held with the Prime Minister and high officials of the Government. “There was and is a strong collaboration between the Chamber and the Government to tackle this issue at hand and there are multiple ways in which this can be tackled. So we agree with the steps planned to be taken.”
These statements reflect past complaints by Member of European Parliament (MEP) Alex Agius Saliba, who highlighted on multiple occasions the stark differences in pricing of the same products, noted within a few months of each other. This led MEP Agius Saliba to ask the European Commission to investigate local food importers.
Ms Agius Mamo commented that this was unnecessary given that there are already practices in place to monitor such accusations. She also emphasised that when making serious allegations about competition, these have to be substantiated with a thorough analysis of the market, spanning a long period of time.
She also highlighted that such statements at European level, “and talking about business without doing your homework can only do more harm than good. It will not do any good to anybody.”
In a previous statement the SME Chamber expressed its concern on MEP Alex Agius Saliba’s statements, describing it as a “hypocritical attack” and that it will not accept for Maltese businesses to be “made into scapegoats for cheap political advancements.”
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