The Malta Independent 25 June 2017, Sunday

Delivering on our time frames

Justyne Caruana Sunday, 18 June 2017, 08:49 Last update: about 7 days ago

Creativity runs through many categories and phases in life, and in politics it is a necessary stimulus when designing and planning projects that are intended to last for the benefit of entire generations.

We are just out of an election campaign that has carved out an historic majority choosing a set of feasible proposals. Creative and challenging as they may be, it is now our duty to bow to the people’s clear mandate and translate proposals into real achievements. The political narrative will usually project itself into the future or reflect on the past, but our immediate aim is to be fully geared up in the real present.

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The planning phase

For most people, the immediate weeks after the decisive 3 June were a time for celebration, but for cabinet members were for taking stock and finding the way forward to plan the implementation of all the measures that were proposed.  Luckily for both Malta and Gozo, this implies continuity as we are now living in a political scenario that we have forged and composed ourselves with a preceding four years of solid and healthy foundations. 

One of the most distinctive features of human intelligence is the capacity to imagine and be creative, projecting our own resources and immediate circumstances and realising what needs to be done. Our minds are clearly set on what we must achieve and how we go about achieving them.

As Minister for Gozo, the past two weeks have been fully engaged with taking stock and setting out the way forward. Ultimately, people know that the final responsibility for achieving everything that has been pledged to them is on my shoulders. My immediate collaborators are aware of that too and I expect the goodwill from one and all in our team along the line of duty in order to succeed in our projects.

We should be – and are – constantly aware that our work is essentially being monitored and evaluated by tax-payers. It is an appraisal that keeps us on our toes while we are carrying out our duties. With this in mind, I move ahead with the full trust that the whole team is inspired by the same zeal to make each day a step forward towards meeting our targets.

Timelines

It is understandable that – in any administration – major projects are planned to take months or even years to complete. Early drawings and plans are indications of what lies ahead, implying that each detail has its own importance. Every member of the team knows that each phase is not just a simple, vague idea, but must be in itself a real step forward – day in, day out. Looking back is only necessary for correcting shortcomings that are not to be ignored or repeated. Negotiations and clarifications in order to get things done on time and on budget are essential. 

Diligent project management is the best tool we have to ensure we are efficient and effective. It is already a pleasure for me to say that, within a couple of days at the helm of the Gozo Ministry, this was evident to everyone in our team. We have already drawn up the necessary timeframes and deadlines to guide us all through the coming months and years.

When drafting Labour’s proposals for Gozo, I was fully aware that big ideas for ambitious projects need to be embedded within a culture at a level deeper than the political winds. It needs to be deeper than may have been the habitual or traditional ways of going about things. Being fully aware of the financial targets and economic benefits of such proposals, we should never disregard the fact that all pledges are based on what our people need and expect. We can never afford fluctuations in our performance and in carrying out my ministerial responsibility I can never allow such shortcomings.  

Responsibility

Whatever the specific level of responsibility within the line of project management, we need to be constantly reminded that people – the Gozitan families and breadwinners – happen to be tax-payers and are, as such, our pay-masters. There can be no better incentive for being fully responsible and honest in everything that we do.

It is indeed a very positive achievement that, in line with this, within a few days we have already drafted the necessary timeframes and deadlines that will guide us through each project. You could say that in this way we are preparing ourselves to be more efficient and able to face the people who will evaluate our performance – during, as well as at the end of, each project. I trust that everyone will shoulder the responsibility of the tasks they are given in order to meet deadlines without the need for prodding – knowing well what Gozitan resilience is made of.

At the end of the day, we are all proud of the extent at which the Gozitan community has performed over the years and most successfully during the first four years of a Labour administration. The whole set of firsts achieved since 2013 should in itself be a solid basis to boost our new endeavours in this legislature. 

Our major targets

It goes without saying that, as a team, we need to keep in mind the various proposals we have for Gozo. We have pledged three years of no income tax for those companies in Malta that decide to relocate to Gozo and employ Gozitan workers. That is already a far cry from the ill-conceived carrot of granting €10,000 to anyone who wished to take up residence on the island. 

We have also made a commitment to see the completion of the new fibre-optic cable so that Gozo can be a hub for technology-related businesses. We have pledged to encourage teleworking for Gozitan employees to be able to work in Gozo for companies based in Malta. In line with this, there will be a refund to such companies of €10,000 in respect of each employee’s salary, as well as reimbursing 75 per cent of the cost of any technology that is spent in order to achieve this.

We have clear proposals that are going to make a difference to people’s lives in Gozo. We want to make Gozo into an economic engine with ambitious proposals that will create work.

Furthermore, incentives will be given to the parents of Gozitan children who are studying at the University of Malta, pledging that they will receive up to €5,000 in tax credits to cover the expense of renting accommodation in Malta. For the Barts multi-million project we already have 170 applicants, of which 30 will initially be attending the newly-established and prestigious medical school, increasing to 60 and eventually 300. This will be a full-blown project, adding some €50 million to the economy of Gozo every year. 

We have also pledged to those working in Gozo Hospital that they will remain employed by the government. Were the Barts investment to be terminated, the current general hospital would continue to deteriorate and consequently there would be no need for staff to remain in Gozo and they would have to go to Malta. The whole health-services project will eventually bring more people to Gozo, with all the positive multiplier effects on Gozo’s economy.

We are also tackling the connectivity challenge, following a call for tenders on the fast ferry service. This means that this long-promised service between Malta and Gozo will now be launched within months. We also plan to proceed with the ambitious multi-million euro tunnel project between the two islands.

This is not a game. We know the weight of the things we have promised! With the good will of everyone involved, we will keep our promises and the Gozo Ministry will play a key role in doing what Labour Governments are known for – delivering on their promises! 

Finally my thoughts go to Special Olympics athletes competing in La Spezia at the moment. Big thumbs up and well done to all of them – especially Carmelo: Xewkija and Gozo are proud of you!

 

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