Savouring stability

A joint initiative between the Government, food importers, and retailers has come to fruition. It revolves around price stability and cheaper prices for certain food items which are most thought to be consumed by the population at large and items that are most prone to a rise in price.

For most of this year, consumers in Malta will be able to purchase certain food items for 15 per cent less than what is referred to as the recommended retail price (RRP) as at 31st October 2023. The initiative will start on 1st February and is set to run until Budget Day.

Global uncertainties are leading to inflation whereby persistent increases in the general price level of goods are being witnessed. One of the sectors significantly affected by inflation is the food industry.

From the very start of this legislature, the Maltese government has sought to focus on economic policies that address the root causes of inflation to support the population during times of economic challenges.

The latest initiative taken to deal with market unpredictability and inflation has just been announced today and guarantees stability in food pricing on a list of food items which are popular among the majority of consumers. This measure has been implemented thanks to the close collaboration of food importers and retailers.

In the face of global economic challenges, this initiative aims not only to combat inflation but also to preserve the affordability of staple foods. It is one of a string of measures introduced to lessen the financial burdens and economic repercussions on the people.

While on the subject of aid, Government also supports families and local producers when it comes to wheat, grains, cereals, and medicines along with subsidies on electricity and fuel in the fight against inflation. For this year alone, the cost to cover energy and fuel subsidies will be that of €350 million.

Had the Government not granted this aid, the price of diesel would have increased to €1.91 a litre like Italy, instead of €1.21 a litre, like it is in Malta. So, a person who currently spends €20 per week to fill their car with diesel would have to spend €32 per week. This means that, in a year, one would need to spend around €624 more on diesel. The same applies for petrol, which in Malta is €1.34 a litre while in Italy it is €1.94 a litre. If a person fills their car with €20 petrol per week, then in a year, without any subsidies, they would have to spend about €468 more on petrol. With electricity subsidies, the electricity bill for two people, not counting the water bill, service charges, and meter rental charges, is around €403 per year.

Moreover, if it weren’t for the stability measure announced today in relation to food prices, the likelihood is that the prices would have risen much more.

Although it was no easy task to convince importers and retailers to help implement this food pricing measure, various talks held between the Ministry for the Economy and the private sector led to a positive outcome whereby, for most of this year, consumers in Malta will be able to purchase certain food items for 15 per cent less than what is referred to as the recommended retail price (RRP) as at 31st October 2023. As the name implies, RRP is the suggested price retailers should sell the item for. The shelf price can also be found to be less than the RRP. The initiative will start on 1st February and is set to run until Budget Day.

Unified approach

The fight against inflation and the pursuit of reduced food prices required a unified and multifaceted approach. By engaging in synergised efforts, an environment was created that fosters economic stability, ensures food affordability for all, and builds resilience against future challenges.

As a result of this agreement, businesses are engaging in a Corporate Social Responsability (CSR) exercise to give something back to society following the Government’s support to businesses during the pandemic. There will be 15 categories of food included in this initiative and the list of products which will be included in this scheme will reach around 400. To date, there are more than 200 outlets participating.

The Government is urging smaller shop owners to participate. The more outlets participate, the more consumers are reached. Participating outlets will display a Stabbiltà (Stability) logo, which is the theme of the campaign.

More information about this initiative or for businesses that would like to participate is available at www.ekonomija.gov.mt

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