Since I am first and foremost a technology worker, that is to say a vampire who stays up all night crawling the internet, trends in investment in technology have always interested me. Apart from being of interest to me, I am also affected by these investments, as new job positions will be made available and more career choices are opened up.
Geert Claes, a Belgian guy who works in Malta and has a wealth of experience in the online world wrote this article on techcrunch.com. The article is about the advantages and disadvantages of investing in Malta. It’s an extremely good article, well researched and written with the knowledge of someone who’s lived here long enough to know where our strengths and pitfalls lie.
Honestly, any true IT or internet worker will tell you that power outages are a serious problem for any computer related business, especially internet based and especially if significant investment has been made. And few people seem to realise that we do have an unhealthy reliance on betting companies locally, as anyone who’s worked freelance will tell you. Geert also knows enough about our inflated housing market, which makes it damn near impossible to own a property without selling your life to a bank, and what a royal pain it is to get all your papers and bank accounts in order for you to move to Malta.
However Gaert, for all his excellent intentions and writing, did neglect to mention the one thing that cynics like me know is paramount in bringing foreign investment to Malta: low wages.
You heard it, low wages! Malta is fast becoming the new India, not in outsourcing, but in cheap labour. Apart from the fact that foreign investors are charged 5% tax, while if I earned the money they do I’d be charged at 35%, and apart from (mostly Northern) Europeans loving our sun and way of life, what they love most is the shit wages they can pay us.
Wouldn’t you like it? To make a million and pay €50,000 in taxes, while someone who earns €50,000 pays €17,500 in tax?
Companies which set up here in Malta can also get an awesome deal on local gradutes and post graduate students, who can be paid a pittance and worked like dogs.
Marketing staff in Malta cost easily half of what marketing staff on the continent do, while developers are in similar waters.
An excellent developer with years of experience whom I know very well was offered some JAVA work for €13 an hour. That’s less than some TEFL teachers make, and I know that for a fact. It’s also a standard offering for people with tertiary level education and years of online experience, the people who really make the companies money. Big money.
So while it’s all well and good that we pat each other on the back and feel proud we have so, oh so much IT investment, let’s remember who’s getting the short end of the stick; you. Because while your foreign boss is getting rich on the 5% tax rate, you’re the one getting getting shafted out of thousands of euros, simply because they know they can and there’s another 10 just like you.