The Malta Independent 26 September 2018, Wednesday

The New Year – full speed ahead

Justyne Caruana Sunday, 7 January 2018, 09:22 Last update: about 10 months ago

Time has no actual divisions to mark its passage. But mankind has thought of establishing measurements to find its place and relate it to specific periods in history. In fact, we feel the need to announce the beginning of a new year as it serves as a wake-up call to new opportunities.

The festive season might have reasonably been a deserved pause from our usual work rhythms. An amazing and unique feel-good factor has reigned throughout both islands in the last few weeks as an expression of the nation’s well-being, fully sustained by a long list of firsts in the economic and financial sectors.

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Our thanks

I believe it is my immediate duty to thank all those entities and individuals who organised – and went the extra mile – to create the festive events for thousands of families in the religious, hospitality and cultural fields. Gozo has again proved itself as the ideal destination for Christmas, with a packed calendar of traditional and cultural activities that attracted thousands of visitors to the island. The Gozo Ministry is proud of having been a catalyst in supporting and coordinating popular events that turned the island into a creative and vibrant community and a showcase of great talents.

It is also the duty of the whole community to thank thousands of people who went about their duties while most of us were celebrating with family and friends. I publicly salute all those working around the clock in hospitals and clinics and homes for the elderly, those responsible for energy supplies, the police, the military, the civil protection staff and all those who secured law and order and gave their service throughout the festive season. Promotional and educational campaigns have also paid off in that safety on our roads was this year a major success.

 

365 days of solidarity

I must admit that I and my colleagues at the Gozo Ministry were still busy with the various initiatives specifically taken for the Christmas period. Programmes such as the Naħseb Fik campaign were another success, as were various other events around the many villages and in residential homes on the island.

I am particularly encouraged and inspired when witnessing the enthusiasm shown by management and staff to create a festive ambience for older people and those with a disability. Their personal commitment is tangible proof of the human solidarity that continuously inspires many thousands of others who this year again broke all records in the L-istrina and Dar tal-Providenza fund-raising campaigns that garnered a spectacular €6 million and €1.25 million respectively. In our own way, as a nation, we respond with generosity when called to show support, when the kind heart of Malta and Gozo shows its best qualities. Donations and pledges during such national events are a most welcome and noble initiative, albeit during public shows, but real and committed solidarity can never be seasonal – it must definitely be expressed throughout the entire 12 months and 365 days of 2018.

 

A New Year

January brings us back to our tasks and our call of duty expects everyone’s regular commitment. At the Gozo Ministry we are fully geared up to proceed with and complete a wide range of projects in various sectors of the island. This year we will enhance our impetus in implementing further steps through the plans and strategies we have set ourselves, aware as we are that a historic majority has approved the government’s proposals for our island region. 

From these early days of the New Year we will be reaping the fruits of long months of planning and consultation and providing the people and families we are meant to serve with everything they deserve. We will, in fact, be concluding public consultations on, amongst others, Rotunda Square in Xewkija and St Francis Square in Rabat. Our constant work will certainly be enhanced by the financial and fiscal budget 2018 measures that came into effect on 1 January. Our plans will also be further supported by the 10 per cent increase in this year’s budget allocation for the Gozo Ministry. 

 

Second fibre-optic link

The widely approved electoral proposals for major industrial and infrastructural projects in Gozo have this week been strengthened, with Malta Enterprise issuing a call for tenders for the €3.5 million project, providing a second fibre optic link with Gozo, to be completed within nine months of the contract being awarded. This government-financed project is aimed at providing security and to cater for future economic growth. 

Funds for the relative feasibility study were allocated in 2014 and the subsequent €250,000 report concluded that a second link between the islands could attract up to 200 high-skilled workers seeking better opportunities in IT, gaming and the digital creative industry. The report also noted that, if accompanied by proper fiscal and pro-business measures – which have actually been proposed as of this year's budget, the €3.5 million investment could provide even higher returns that could boost the Gozitan economy. 

 

Our human resources

It is an accepted fact that the country’s richest potential is found in our human resources and Gozo is no less fortunate, with a very creative population that can boast of hundreds of dedicated workers in various sectors. In my very first days at the helm of the Ministry for Gozo, I expressed my full confidence in the abilities and experience of those working in the public sector of the island, expecting everyone’s loyalty to her or his call of duty. 

As Minister for Gozo, I immediately set out the way forward by meeting the required restructuring to ensure better efficiency in our output, with each of us having the space and tools to realise all our potential. Ultimately, people know that the final political responsibility to achieve everything that has been pledged to them rests on my shoulders. My immediate collaborators are aware of that too and I expect the good will from one and all in our team along the line of duty in order to succeed in our projects.

 

Worker of the year award

We should always be aware of the fact that our work is being constantly monitored and evaluated by taxpayers. It is an appraisal that keeps us on our toes while carrying out our duties. With this in mind, I move ahead with complete confidence that the whole team is inspired with the same zeal of making each day a step towards reaching our targets.

It was a pleasure this week to present the Worker of the Year at the Gozo Ministry Award, an initiative I have purposely introduced in the last few months at the Ministry. There were no fewer than 48 nominations, all of whom made it quite difficult to select a winner. The Worker of the Year Award scheme is not merely a competition, but is also an exercise to give due recognition to those who distinguish themselves in their line of duty. We all admit that an employee’s earnings for work done are her/his immediate aim in earning a living, but there is a far superior job-satisfaction that goes beyond all other aspects.

These workers will set the expected standards for others to follow. Their example will help transform the various directorates within the Ministry into what the people would love to consider as ‘Team Gozo’!

 

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