Dreaming of island paradises

Someone who is projected to be one of the best elements of the Nationalist Opposition makes statements without first checking the basic facts

Economic policy is not usually thought up while sipping cocktails. This is a lesson that aspirant PN leader Darren Carabott had better learn.

In an interview with Jon Mallia, the Nationalist MP, who some are pushing to elbow out Bernard Grech after next June’s election, claimed that life on the Greek island of Crete is better than in Malta. He stated that he went there on holiday and felt that there was a much better quality of life and less criminality.

Well, tourist resorts do not tend to be that representative of the country around them, as anyone who has ever gone to the Caribbean or far closer to our shores, to Tunisia, can safely attest.

The island idyll of Crete sadly has an unemployment rate exceeding 12%, or about five times that in Malta. Among young people from Crete who do not migrate from their island due to the lack of economic opportunities they face, one finds an unemployment rate of 25%. This means that one in four young people in Crete rely on unemployment benefits to carry on with life.

The percentage of the population in Crete which, according to Eurostat, is at risk of poverty or social exclusion is around one and a half times that in Malta, while the level of gross domestic product per capita is just over half that of Malta. In Crete about one in nine persons is considered by Eurostat to live in a situation of severe material deprivation, which means that they cannot afford to pay electricity bills, have a holiday, or cope with essential costs.

According to Eurostat, the rate of physical assaults reported to the police in Crete is one and a half times that in Malta, while the number of car theft is double that in Malta.

In a broadcast by the BBC in 2019 a student at the University of Crete claimed that there is so much of a housing shortage on his island that he ended up organising protests with other students in the city of Chania. They did that because they couldn’t afford the rents on their island. Recently the Greek government had to launch private public partnerships in Crete to build student housing to try to alleviate this problem.

All this shows how much someone who is projected to be one of the best elements of the Nationalist Opposition – so much so that he was appointed President of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) – makes statements without first checking the basic facts. Like Bernard Grech, who also is on record saying he tells people he is Greek, Carabott’s intent is always to put our country in a bad light to score cheap political points.

Had he bothered to check his facts, he would have realised that, thanks to the austerity policies espoused by the conservative Government of Greece, in reality Greek families are unfortunately going through a difficult financial situation.

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