The Malta Independent 8 August 2020, Saturday

Strength in unity

Silvio Schembri Sunday, 19 January 2020, 09:58 Last update: about 8 months ago

If there is one crucial thing that distinguishes us from our adversaries, it is unity. Repeatedly, unity has triumphed over scaremongering tactics, blatant lies and back-stabbers who sought their personal interests first. We have had some challenging days, both in our role as Parliamentary Members representing the electorate, and as citizens. However, united we stood with the main interest of our country in our hearts. Today, more than ever, with a newly-appointed, young and vibrant Cabinet ready to lead the country into the second decade of the millennium, the best interest of our nation remains at the core of this new and exciting chapter in our history.

ADVERTISEMENT

The new Prime Minister has inherited a strong economy, which is set to grow in the months to come. With the lowest unemployment rate ever registered, and an economy which is predicted to experience the highest growth in the EU, over the past seven years, Malta’s economy has stood the test of time: turning a crippling deficit into a surplus, a stagnant economy into a diversified one and, most importantly, a nation that provides opportunities for future generations, regardless of which strata of our society they happen to hail from. 

Now, as a newly appointed Minister, I believe that for the generation of wealth to continue, our main priority should remain the diversification of our economy through the exploration of new economic niches and by attracting new direct foreign investment – this without neglecting the solid foundations that have so far borne satisfactory results.

The vast portfolio with which I have been vested includes Malta’s national Airline – Air Malta – which, while it can be considered a daunting challenge, is one that I welcome. I am totally looking forward to capitalising on the good decisions taken so far for a fully sustainable airline.

With regard to SMEs and small businesses which, together with our workforce, form the backbone of our economy, a lot has been done to pave the way forward. Multiple incentives and ideal springboards to launch services and products have, in recent years, seen our small businesses flourish without exception. The next natural step would be finding better means of protecting them and identifying the hurdles that need to be addressed to make it easier for them to enter the market.

As in the past, we need to remain proactive, always one step ahead of the game and courageous in the exploration of innovative niches which, as has been proven time and again, will result in further robust economic growth and the creation of new jobs.

These are the core values that the Labour Party stands for: the very essence of being socio-democratic, a competitive economy that generates wealth whilst helping those whose conditions need to be improved.  Steadily, poverty – the scourge of any civilised society – has seen significant changes through the introduction of incentives, independence from social benefits and the joining into the workforce of the able-bodied, as well as better living conditions for the vulnerable. 

More needs to be done to ensure that this growth is inclusive and reaches everyone – and this remains the next step forward. As Prime Minister Robert Abela himself pointed out, it is time for employers to invest in their own workforce and this should be in parallel with the Government’s pace of development. This should be the mantra for the year ahead of us. 

Concerning our country’s reputation, let it be known that our institutions work diligently, efficiently and effectively. Just recently, the Malta Gaming Authority issued a penalty of €2.34 million – the highest fine to date – for a ‘company’ that was providing gaming-related services without the necessary authorisation. Such action was possible through a joint effort between the Authority and the Malta Police Force.

This concrete action, amongst others which, unfortunately, did not make the headlines, resonates with what safeguarding the reputation of our country is all about. Maintaining our country’s sound reputation is in the best interests of everyone and we will not allow anyone to try and smear the name of our jurisdiction. I am certain that – with Prime Minister Robert Abela at the helm – this bumpy road ahead of us will be overcome with determination and plenty of goodwill.

The coming years of this legislature will prove to be very exciting in the way things will unfold, the policies and decisions that must be taken and in pushing forward agendas as part of our electoral manifesto. Apart from our mission of ensuring that wealth is distributed and reached by all strata of society, the enhancing of skills and investing in human resource should top the agenda to ensure that Malta is well-equipped for the needs of emergent industries. 

Our aim remains that of progressing Malta into the future and leaving it better than it was before. To arrive at this ultimate goal, we shall stand united in strength, side-by-side Malta’s new Prime Minister Robert Abela.

 

Silvio Schembri is Minister of the Economy, Investment and Small Businesses

 

  • don't miss