The Malta Independent 27 May 2019, Monday

Moments of truth

Justyne Caruana Sunday, 21 April 2019, 09:31 Last update: about 2 months ago

A nation acknowledges its true leaders for the way they walk their talk and translate their promises into real facts. Irrespective of the time required to realise major projects, people endorse the instant their government formally commits itself to act.

The Labour government has once again shown its commitment for us Gozitans this week in Parliament with a ground-breaking resolution for the long desired permanent link between the two islands. It was my honour as Minister for Gozo to propose - together with Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg - a historical resolution authorising the government to carry out a permanent link between Gozo and Malta.

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It is not only Labour's electoral pledge but now also mandated by Parliament to make this project happen - given the unanimous approval. Indeed, the realisation and consensus on this project are a matter of political credibility because it is a major promise in the political manifestos of all political parties that are in Parliament.

This is the largest infrastructure project ever seen in the history of our country.  Given the large scale proportions of the proposal, its completion will certainly need more than one legislature, and it was therefore most proper that both sides of the house agree to its realisation as from start. It is also most encouraging that constituted bodies, including the Gozo Business Chamber, have hailed Parliament's unanimous agreement as a historic step forward to make a long time dream come true.

As on several other issues of major importance for my fellow Gozitans, this is yet another moment of truth in the way Labour commits itself to further serve Gozo and its people - today's and future generations.

 

Serious criticism is welcome

It is a known fact that success is always accompanied by criticism where some try to camouflage results with insults and shroud facts with hearsay or doubts. Good leadership skills ignite ideas from all around - including critics, but extinguish bad vibes.  We have stated time and again that this government does not expect to be perfect and in fact is always open to varied views and constructive criticism.  On various issues we have modified our approach or plans and never shied away from corrective measures or alternatives. 

One thing that is for sure, however, is that we never diverted our focus from leading the nation towards better living conditions.  This is not political rhetoric, nor a play with words for partisan gains.   Like many others I regularly meet families and irrespective of their traditional party affiliations, they confirm that they are better off than they were six years ago.  

Delivering results has been Labour's response all along to all forms of negative criticism.  This has also been my own way to mute baseless criticism, with an inner strength to never allow it to affect my duties and actions.  No amount of fabricated hearsays or other threats have ever deterred me from carrying my duties. Albeit unwarranted, such intimidations can only enhance and invigorate my determination to forge ahead with what my ministerial remit expects of me.

 

Delivering is the best reply

This was in fact my rationale throughout my first 16 years representing my fellow Gozitans in Parliament.  Evidently, a good part of criticism came by way of the chronic inflation of straws into mountains.  Unfortunately, even when their critique tends to make some sense, it is evident that the lethargy of past administrations haunts them and turn into sour grapes for what we have achieved in such a short span of time.  This applies to all sectors, including Gozo's particular issues and endemic challenges.

Some people need to know better that effective success is not achieved through pompous words or colourful promises.  The best ideals cannot ever be realised by the authors of decades of vacuum.  Knowing the job, acknowledging the real facts, facing the challenge, consulting all involved and having the will power to implement the necessary measures on time, are basically what it takes to deliver.  More so that we strive to ensure that due diligence and quality surpass quantity at every stage.

Given the widespread surge of people's journalism in the social media, systematically fuelled by intentionally destructive shots by a fragmented Opposition, it is sometimes necessary to  explain further on real facts.  It is unfortunate that for decades the general public opinion had grown accustomed to the traditional laissez-faire attitude by previous administrations. Although it is not that easy to eradicate such a deep-rooted mentality, an overwhelming majority from all walks of the local political spectrum are realising that indeed, Labour works and delivers.  

 

Millions more for Gozo

Tens of millions of euros have already been invested in Gozo, including the €11million for the new reverse osmosis plant in Ħondoq and for other major projects in different sectors at the heart of the island's economy.   This week we have launched a €10 million programme from EU funds to improve the rural character of Gozo. This will be carried out through two projects involving valley cleaning, water management and the development of the island’s landscape

Valleys will be cleaned of debris, and rubble walls and water catchment areas restored. This project is therefore aimed at improving the rural aspect of Gozo, benefiting the operation of our farmers and further implement the EcoGozo strategy.  The valleys related to the projects are: Wied tax-Xlendi, Wied Mgarr ix-Xini, Wied Tal-Grazzja, Wied Rihan, Wied ta’ Grajgel, Wied il-Wileg, Wied Mgarr, Wied ta’ Xhajma, Wied Marsalforn, Wied il-Ort, Wied l-Infern and Wied il-Kbir.

I am confident that through this new investment, the countryside and rural landscape of Gozo will get a boost.  We are strengthening the sustainability and the green economy, in that the valley cleaning will help water storage which can eventually be utilised by farmers to irrigate their fields, thereby eliminating the extraction of groundwater.

It is my duty to emphasise that the work will be carried out in accordance with practices and standards applicable in this regard. A tender will shortly be issued for the restoration and rebuilding of around 30 km of rubble walls. This will contribute towards an increase in the  population and range of endemic species usually finding a natural habitat in rubble walls.

Agriculture as an industry and rural development are two important pillars for Gozo - both for its economy and for its environmental landscapes as a tourist attraction. The government recognises the importance of both factors and is therefore applying unprecedented amounts of EU funds in Gozo. The island's economic development can only be built on a  sustainability that passes through the protection and the rehabilitation of these areas. Such projects too are moments of truth that Gozitans can witness while rising above the shallow and repetitive criticism from habitually negative sources.   

 

Happy Easter

A month long programme of events coordinated by the Gozo Ministry comes to an end today with the joy of Easter Sunday. Special thanks go to all those who have organised religious functions, concerts, exhibitions and pageants that have once again exhibited the high level of Gozitan artistic skills and traditions in various aspects. 

I would also like to thank the Ministry's officials who have successfully coordinated all activities into a holistic programme that has attracted the participation of hundreds of families and thousands of visitors. Last but not least, I wish the editor, his staff and all readers a very blessed Easter!

 

Justyne Caruana is the Minister for Gozo

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