The Malta Independent 29 February 2020, Saturday

Sustaining inclusive growth

Justyne Caruana Sunday, 6 October 2019, 09:28 Last update: about 6 months ago

“A budget is more than just a series of numbers on a page; it is an embodiment of our values” – Barack Obama 

The Labour Government is already halfway through its second mandate. The economic growth experienced in the last six years is not coincidental: it stems from a clear vision, incessant work and the sheer determination of gifted, driven and brilliant men and women who have understood the dream of our Prime Minister Dr Joseph Muscat for an all-inclusive and prosperous Malta and Gozo.  The economic boom has been achieved because we have closely followed Labours strong belief in the fundamental values of social justice as a means for the common good.

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Budget for 2020

The theme of this year’s pre-budget 2020 consultation document was entitled ‘Sustaining Inclusive Growth’. It highlights the importance of sustainable development, aiming at a higher quality of life and the fact that it is the pathway to the future that this Government wants for all our citizens. It offers a framework to generate economic growth, ensure social justice, exercise environmental stewardship and strengthen good governance.

I am confident that the 2020 budget to be presented tomorrow week will live up to people’s expectations. Every budget to date has shown that this Government delivers on its electoral promises in a timely and efficient manner and has the well-being of each and every citizen at heart. It is therefore no wonder that we are experiencing such an economic boom. People from all walks of life, ideologies and beliefs have embraced the Labour Movement’s vision for Malta and Gozo because this Government is delivering on its promise of a country where no one is left behind and the prosperity generated through this economic growth will be enjoyed by everyone.

Ongoing work

Our mandate as Ministers is to implement the Government’s policies and measures in a timely, structured manner, according to plan. Naturally, notwithstanding our incessant efforts to implement these directives, circumstances beyond our control, sometimes slow down our endeavours. The Ministry for Gozo has been hard at work upgrading Gozo’s infrastructure. We have rebuilt, resurfaced, embellished and restored a record number of roads, piazzas and historical buildings, but not without continuous set-backs.

Roads that should have taken a few weeks to repair needed to be dug up and rebuilt from scratch. Poor workmanship, inferiour materials and in many casesoutdated utilitiy systems, meant that our budgetry resources and time-frames are disrupted. However, these set-backs do not discourage me. It is my aim to rebuild our defunct infrastructure from scratch and to enhance and upgrade it so that it will last. Patching and improvising is costly and ineffective and would hinder our vision of a sustainable and economically viable island.

Our commitment

Rest assured that my Ministry is doing its very utmost to upgrade Gozo’s infrastructure in the shortest time possible. I am fully aware of the inconvenience such roadworks are creating and my workforce and the contractors that tendered for this work are working around the clock to complete these projects in as short a time as possible. I am also committed to use our budgetry allocation diligently and to ensure frequent and intensive survelliance of the work being done in order to ensure that time-frames are adhered to and the workmanship is of a high standard.

It has to be kept in mind that public procurement regulations must be adhered to according to law. These regulations are extremely important because they secure transparency and equity and ensure that precious public funds are used wisely and effectively. These regulations include the issuance of permits, calls for tender, adjudication of tenders, time-frames in which tenderers can appeal against decisions taken by adjudication boards and continuous planning to create alternative deviations not to disrupt public life.

A lasting legacy

As we all know, Gozo’s past goes back in time to pre-history and there are archeological remains everywhere. It is therefore of the utmost importance that archeological remains are studied and documented and, if necessary, that planned construction, embellishments and roadworks are diverted in senstive archeological areas. Recently, during the digging up of the tarmac and rubble in St Francis Square, a number of Punic tombs were discovered which required the intervention of the Superindence of Cultural Heritage and archelogical monitors. The remains of a Roman quarry were also discovered in the site earmaked for the building of Gozo’s Museum.

This means that all work on these sites have had to be put on hold until all the necessary studies have been carried out by the archeologists. It also shows that previous governments were not concerned with the island’s cultural heritage and buried and destroyed large areas of important and irreplaceable structures and artifacts that would have given us a picture of our distant past.

My aim is to salvage, restore and showcase what is left or is discovered and to ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated. I believe in high quality, sustainable and long-term solutions that modernise the island and safeguard its natural and cultural heritage. This is what Gozo deserves.

Social justice

Infrastructural work is important and the work carried out in the last two years can be seen and felt in every town and village. However, my Ministry is involved in numerous other activities that are perhaps not as obvious to the public at large.

A very important department in the Gozo Ministry focuses on the social sector. Social justice is the cornerstone of this Governments vision for our island, and the well-being of Gozitan citizens is high on the agenda. As Gozitans, we are entitled to all the services provided on a national level. This means that we are now offering home help and community-based services to hundreds of Gozitan families who are now benefitting from these incentives.

Our commitment to work with whoever wishes to improve the lives of the people is ongoing and, in fact, in my first year at the Ministry I reached and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Gozo Curia to combine our resources in support of vulnerable people in Gozo. It is our aim to join forces to make our services accessible and inclusive to each and every Gozitan family in need of particular support.

Bishop Mario Grech

Gozo has once again made the headlines. Our very own Bishop Mario Grech has been appointed by Pope Francis as General Pro-Secretary of the Synod of Bishops an institution to which the Vatican has been giving great importance. He will eventually succeed Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri next year and take over as General Secretary.

Both as Parliamentary Secretary for Active Ageing and Persons with Disability and as Minister for Gozo, I have worked closely with His Lordship on diverse projects aimed at improving the lives of the most vulnerable members of society. I have found him to be a true advocate of – and steadfast believer in social justice and the betterment of mankind, and fully committed to the universal Churchs role in the modern world.

I congratulate him on his new role and augur that his contribution towards mankind will have positive and lasting repercussions wherever the Catholic Church is active around the world. Tiny Gozo is proud to have one of its sons devote himself to the common good on a global scale.

This prestigious and highly demanding role for Monsignor Grech is testimony to the saying that  the true greatness of a nation is not measured by the vastness of its territory, or by the multidude of its people, but by the extent to which it has contributed to the life and thought and progress of the world.”

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