The Malta Independent 19 September 2019, Thursday

Every number tells a story

Justyne Caruana Sunday, 25 August 2019, 09:26 Last update: about 25 days ago

Numbers have an important story to tell and they rely on you to give them a voice and a meaning. Success is not, in fact, measured by numbers alone but by transforming statistics into action. Discover the numbers that matter and be sure to apply them correctly. 

Decisions taken by the government are based on the reality of everyday life and cannot come to fruition without timely and reliable statistics that are based on the socio-economic life of a sovereign nation.

The World Bank stresses the importance of statistics and describes them as the evidence on which policies are built. They help identify needs, establish goals and monitor progress. Without good statistics, the development progress is blind: policy-makers cannot be left to learn from their mistakes and the public cannot but hold them accountable.

Although actual facts are the immediate evidence of any desired progress, timely and reliable statistics are indeed critical for creating and sustaining an environment that fosters strong, fair development. The United Nations describes statistics as path-finders for solutions, as well as a means of assessing the extent – or level – of development of a country in a given period. 

 

Measuring effects

Our Labour government, like all responsible governments, uses statistics to measure the effect and efficiency with which national decisions are taken – always keeping in mind that behind every statistic there is a human being with aspirations and needs and a whole spectrum of individual or family circumstances.

The Labour government builds on statistical successes and continuously strives to perfect and introduce new and equitable measures that further enhance the well-being of society – which is precisely our target: prosperity with a purpose. 

This is done by adjusting the performance metrics and analyses accordingly. Numbers and percentages are important tools but the human element is an integral part of every decision taken and implemented.  Having feet firmly on the ground and close contact with each and every individual are therefore the key elements through which the government secures the end-to-end journey of every citizen.  

The latest success for Gozo’s connectivity challenges may seem a small achievement to some, but it is indeed vitally important for our tiny island. Tangible proof of how this government’s method has been used with great success is the addition of a fourth ferry to the Gozo Channel fleet.

The Gozo Ministry’s continuous efforts to improve the island’s infrastructure and the organising of varied popular and cultural events have made Gozo a popular destination. The ever-increasing number of both local and foreign visitors to our shores has created a situation where a more frequent and efficient transport service to and from the island has become a necessity for Gozitans, businesses and visitors alike. 

 

Record figures

The addition of a fourth ferry to the Gozo Channel fleet has been shown to be an informed and wise decision, to the extent that over 221,000 people crossed over to Gozo during the Santa Marija weekend. In just one week, the fleet made an impressive 900 trips to and from Malta – due to the fourth ferry and the support of a dedicated workforce. Today, the long, interminable queues are things of the past and it has become the norm for a place on the ferry to be almost guaranteed when one reaches the terminals of Cirkewwa and Mgarr. 

This success story does not mean that we are resting on our laurels: while a fourth ferry is here to stay, we are now tendering for a ferry that will be an integral part of our fleet, a fast ferry and a helicopter service. The feasibility study phase for the building of a tunnel linking Gozo with Malta is moving ahead and then there will be the implementation stage: a call for tenders and the commencement of the project itself.

The record figures for Santa Marija week reflect the continuous increase in the number of travellers during the rest of the year – confirming the increasing demand and justifying our decision.

 

Gozo’s outlook

Facts and figures are continuously indicating that each and every decision taken by the Labour Government is improving Gozo’s outlook and quality of life. The island’s potential and well-being was one of this Government’s priorities and it is no wonder that a feel-good factor has permeated all levels of society on the island. People are seeing promises delivered and can tell with their own eyes that this government means business – a far cry from the situation only a few years ago.  An improved transport service is only one link in the chain of other incentives and projects that have given all sectors of Gozitan society the confidence and impetus to grow and cooperate fully with one goal in mind: to place Gozo on the map as a productive contributor to the national economy. 

Apart from financial assistance and incentives under various schemes, the Gozo Ministry has been giving serious consideration to the issue of affordable accommodation for Gozitan students studying in Malta. The efforts to find accommodation for students – and for the relatives of patients undergoing treatment in hospitals in Malta – have finally borne fruit. Last January, my Ministry reached an agreement with the Franciscan Community, as a result of which Villa Lauri in Birkirkara will provide accommodation for students and patients’ relatives.

The necessary permits to convert Villa Lauri into a 33-bed residence are now in hand. This particular initiative is only part of the Ministry’s plan for Gozitans requiring temporary accommodation in Malta. We have recently invited applications for the refunding of costs pertaining to transport and accommodation up to a maximum of €45 per person, per night. 

 

The Gozo experience

The Gozo Ministry’s main aspiration is to improve the quality of life of its people through solid and feasible measures that enhance the island’s natural, social and cultural attributes while at the same time bringing it into the 21st century without having a negative impact on its unique, old-world charm. Some might think that this is a lofty and unachievable ambition, but I am convinced that nothing is impossible. Proof of this momentum are the tangible successes of the last few years, which include the fourth ferry and Villa Lauri, the new health centre, and infrastructural work all around Gozo – just to mention a few.

The things we have promised are fast becoming a reality, despite the predictable complaining on the part of those who have not yet accepted the clear choice of the people. Through hard work, careful planning and consistent and diligent improvement on statistical and individual input by all sectors of society, Gozo will continue to thrive, grow and evolve into a sustainable and ecological island and will be a relevant and stable contributor to the national well-being. 

In Gozo’s own reality, it is very clear that life is not just a series of calculations and a sum total of statistics. It is about people’s real experiences, it is about participation, it is something more challenging and more interesting than what is perceived by some people as being simply obvious.  



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