10 OCTOBER 2001
By Ray Abdilla
"Local traders are unwilling accept foreigners competing in a market which has traditionally and effectively been reserved for the Maltese nationals."
"When Maltese entrepreneurs invested in this sector they invested under the conditions of a closed market and any change of policy should reasonably be expected to be projected over the longest period possible, and surely not under the pressure of entrepreneurs that have failed miserably."
GRTUs Director General, who has turned the GRTU into an anti-government bulwark, stated this when commenting about the Price Club issue to The Malta Financial and Business Times.
He added that it looks like "the government is moving blindly and dangerously with regard to this issue."
"If policy has to be changed all parties concerned have to sit at the same table to discuss and consult each other". Foreign intervention was rated favourable in the tourist industry, in export and even in updating ourselves with new technology but it is definitely not required in the retailing or wholesaling market.
Mr Farrugia predicted that the rest of the market absorbed the employees who were left redundant by the closing down of Price Club as the other retailers regained their momentum.
The GRTU called on the government not to allow for a change in policy on retailing. This change would entail the sale of Price Club to foreigners, an unprecedented policy for the retailing industry. The GRTU stressed that the retailing sector does not need foreign investment.
He said the GRTU saw no reason for a change in policy simply because one particular retailing group had let itself into financial difficulties. The union recalled how during Price Clubs rapid growth traders suffered unduly because of what the GRTU called unfair and unacceptable practices.
Today the trade community is recuperating and local traders are not willing to accept the introduction of foreigners competing in a market which has traditionally been reserved for Maltese nationals.
The GRTU fears that change of policy will cause a negative impact on
the tight current internal market conditions.