The Malta Independent 25 April 2018, Wednesday

Our commitment to 2018 and beyond

Justyne Caruana Sunday, 31 December 2017, 08:00 Last update: about 5 months ago

Beginning a new year tomorrow is only a chronological sequence of the country's progress that builds on the resilience of our people - as shown over the past year - and on lessons learnt through good times and bad.

It is during this festive period that we should take the timely opportunity to further consider how best we can translate today's festivities into everyday life. The eloquent solidarity of events held at this time of the year should be a strong reminder that a fair society does not need any special calendar dates to prove itself.

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As a nation, we have reached many targets during Labour's first four years in office, and we are determined to achieve more in the years to come. Our strength is derived from our principles of social justice, fair distribution of wealth, equality and equity. It also comes from the people's support for a committed government, as amply proven at the polls last June.

Our rich human capital

Since my early years in public life, I have strongly believed that the most important feature of public administration is the good management of all the resources and functions put together on behalf of the state. Malta and Gozo have a rich human capital that has, time and time again, been a major attraction for foreign investment which, since 2013, has reached unprecedented levels. All government ministers have this vital coordinating and leading role within the specific sectors with which they have been entrusted. As Minister for Gozo, my belief that effective public administration is due to the coordination of people working within set tasks according to specifically established policies has been reinforced.

The clear knowledge of all policies and targets is indispensable for anyone in the public service. They need to be fully aware of their individual role and how it is linked to other roles, together with the responsibility they should carry to ensure that a whole team is working towards realising the policies that have been set during the planning stages. Full awareness and focus are key elements for anyone at any level to assume responsibility and show full, transparent loyalty to the people he or she is expected to serve.

I am sure that each of us takes into account not only personal initiative, but also keeps a clear idea of government's proposals, as approved by a vast majority of people within the democratic process. Loyalty to that purpose needs to be transparent in the way each one of us regularly carries out the duties we have been given and thus avoids any doubts of hidden agendas - which are definitely not what we are paid for. Together we need to achieve results.

The underlying link takes the form of consulting and listening to whoever is concerned and mainly with the immediate collaborators at the Ministry. My commitment defines the style through which we move ahead, translating policies into strategies, plans into actions.

Proġett Għawdex

Long consultations with Gozo's local councils have been - and always will be - my approach during my tenure of office. Since their inception 24 years ago, local councils have developed into a reality with which we all have to reckon. The Labour Government has ensured that devolving further duties to local councils is to be supported by both direct and indirect assistance from national funds. The recently launched Proġett Għawdex is a case in point, where we can work together for the benefit of at least 10 of our localities.

Gozitan local councils have themselves identified a number of roads that require rebuilding. Most of them are residential and the Ministry, in accordance with the respective local councils, felt the need to act. We have committed €1.5 million for this project to be the first in a series of initiatives to be implemented in our Proġett Għawdex programme. This investment will not be just a one-off for this year: it is in addition to the €1.8 million allocated by the Ministry for Gozo for roads under its responsibility, as set out in the 2018 budget for Gozo.

Infrastructural upgrades

The Ministry will insist on quality - not purely cosmetic - work, with everything carried out within the scheduled works programme as well as complete accountability for the funds spent. Apart from the 18 roads indicated, over the coming year the Ministry will also carry out work on Triq Għajn Qatet in Victoria, Triq Ġorf in Xagħra, Triq il-Ħamrija in Xewkija, the continuation of Triq Sannat and Triq Gerxija in Sannat and Triq id-Dwejra in San Lawrenz, as well as carrying out necessary feasibility studies on a road from Nadur above Triq Sant Antnin in Għajnsielem, a Victoria ring-road and an alternative route to Mġarr Harbour.

This is an unprecedented exercise because I am committed to see that the Gozo Ministry shows in clear terms that infrastructure around the island is given the attention and upgrade it deserves. Proġett Għawdex is specifically aimed at creating more inclusivity and participation in the local community, providing the necessary resources and expertise as a clear sign of equality and equity. In the end, it is a community commitment.

Collective responsibility

Ultimately, people know that the final political responsibility for achieving everything that has been pledged to them rests on my shoulders. My immediate collaborators - and the respective local councils - are also aware of that and I expect the goodwill from one and all within our team along the line of duty in order to succeed in our projects.

We are - and should constantly be - aware that our work is essentially being monitored and evaluated by the taxpayers. It is an appraisal that keeps us on our toes while carrying out our duties. With this in mind, I move ahead with the full trust that the whole team - at both Ministry and local level - is inspired with the same zeal to ensure that each day is a step towards reaching our targets.

It is understandable that, in any administration, major projects are planned to take months or even years to be completed. Early drawings and plans are indicative of what lies ahead, implying that each detail has its own importance. Each team-player knows full well that every phase is not just a simple, vague idea, but must be in itself a real step ahead, day in, day out. Looking back is only necessary for correcting shortcomings that are not to be ignored or repeated. Negotiations and clarifications to get things done - on time and within budget - are most essential.

Diligent project management is the best tool we have when it comes to being efficient and effective. It is already a pleasure for me to state that, in my first six months at the helm of the Gozo Ministry, this is clear to everyone in our team. We are preparing the necessary timeframes and deadlines to guide us all along the coming months of this first phase of the Proġett Għawdex.

Rewarding human resources

My busy schedule over the Christmas period increased my appreciation of the local talent that created a myriad of events at national and local levels. Each occasion confirmed the positive outcome of the Ministry's support for the people's way of celebrating the annual festivities.

It was indeed a pleasure to welcome a group of home-help workers to the Ministry as I wanted to congratulate them on their continuous work in the social areas of our community. These people are supplied by the Ministry for Gozo and are consistently working with the elderly - which requires much commitment and dedication - all year round. Over the last few months, improvements have been made to the procedures, which has resulted in the provision of a stronger and more efficient service.

On a similar note of appreciation, but with a wider spectrum, this year we have launched the Ministry for Gozo Worker of the Year Award. A total of 45 nominations have been received so far for this award, which will be presented as a token of appreciation and recognition for employees who distinguish themselves in their line of work for or on behalf of the Ministry.

This is not a symbolic gesture. It is intended to thank these people for their resilience and for setting the best standards for others to follow. It is also another way of wishing all of them and their families greater job satisfaction throughout the New Year!


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