The Malta Independent 4 August 2020, Tuesday

Good leadership for success

Justyne Caruana Sunday, 26 July 2020, 09:34 Last update: about 9 days ago

"Every age spawns a leader meant only for that age, a political giant whose absence, in retrospect, seems inconceivable when the history of that age is written." - Dan Simmons, American writer

 

I wholeheartedly agree with this statement and consider myself privileged to be part of a party that has, time and again, elected leaders who have, in times of need, been able to steer us in the right direction and make us the proud nation state we are today. Retrospection clears the mind and puts into the right perspective chains of events that at the time appear to be chaotic and confusing but will soon bear fruit.     

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Retrospection also shows that, through a whole century, the people that elected Labour's leaders always put the country above personal and partisan gain. They were motivated by fundamental truths of equity, justice and the common good according to the socio-political climate of the time. In essence, they have always chosen leaders who had a compelling vision, a comprehensive plan and relentless implementation and who worked with talented people they attracted around them.

 

Swaying the polls

Then and now, Labour leaders have delivered beyond expectations. They have taken hard decisions, irrespective of populist beliefs and ill-intentioned hurdles. In Bob Ehrlich's words, they were and are leaders that do not sway with the polls. Instead, they sway the polls through their own words and actions!

Back to the present, it is quite obvious that our current leader and Prime Minister Robert Abela is focusing on continuity and is carrying on in the implementation of this government’s electoral manifesto with the same success as his predecessor Joseph Muscat.  His handling of the Covid-19 crisis and his ability to negotiate a fair and just share of EU Funds for Malta are commendable.

Thanks to our talented strategists, experts and technocrats we have struck a historic deal that will most certainly help us mitigate our losses and continue to reach our socio-economic goals in the years to come.  These are the truths that sway public opinion, and certainly not the relentless malicious campaigns that seem to be the only unifying factor of an otherwise disjointed opposition.

 

Rewarding EU funds

Increasing the country’s funds is no mean feat, particularly in the context of the post-Brexit era for the European Union. Brexit means that the second largest net contributor to the EU Budget will, in the next seven years, lead to a loss of €75 billion from the EU coffers. Malta has negotiated a package worth €2.5 billion– double that secured by Lawrence Gonzi and the Nationalist Government in 2012 for the period 2013-2020.

 

During the five long days of negotiations at the beginning of this week, our team emphasised the particular challenges faced by our small nation state and emphasised on rewarding rather than penalising Malta for keeping unemployment at a record low. These negotiations, have, notwithstanding the economic stability of the country, brought us extra income that will ensure our continued success for the next seven years.

 

Emphasis on Gozo

It is with satisfaction that I note that a minimum 10% of the funds allocated by the EU to Malta under the Cohesion Policy and Agriculture will be allocated to Gozo. This means that Gozo will receive more funds overall than it currently has ring-fenced under the 2014 – 2020 financing period. 

 

I am proud to have been instrumental, during my tenure as Minister for Gozo, in the acquisition of more of these funds. Together with Commissioner Helen Dalli, then Minister responsible for EU Affairs, and Minister Aaron Farrugia, then Parliamentary Secretary responsible for EU Funds,  we entertained discussions with the Commission and prepared a report on the economic and social situation of Gozo with particular emphasis on the disparities of the social and economic development between Gozo and Malta. This report included proposals on appropriate measures that needed to be implemented to enable further integration of Gozo within the internal market.

 

A legacy for Gozo

During the last three years, EU funds available for Gozo were unprecedented and were used with diligence and astuteness in numerous projects with positive and encouraging results. This was also acknowledged by then Commissioner Corina Cretu, who visited Gozo and attested these endeavours herself. The many projects that are still ongoing and that were planned, financed and commenced during my tenure as Minister, prove that hard work, determination and joint effort are the key to successes and rewards.

I had also proposed to the Cabinet that the 10% allocation for Gozo from EU Funds be increased to 12%. This was wholeheartedly accepted by Cabinet. I also requested an additional ring-fenced amount to be allocated specifically for the infrastructural development of Gozo, but this was postponed in view of the change in leadership.

It is still there with all the supporting documents and I am positive that my contribution and legacy towards Gozo as a sustainable net contributor to the national economy will continue to bear fruit in the years to come.

 

Consistent for a hundred years

Our Labour leaders have risked unpopularity, confronted prejudice, bigotry and vested interests. Nevertheless, they pushed our country to the fore both socially and economically time and again throughout our history as a Nation. They have all been instrumental in creating a modern democracy based on the rule of law and the common good where no one is left behind and the contribution of each and every person is appreciated and utilised to the full.

Retrospection for Labour is a valuable credential for the future of Gozo and Malta.  Labour leaders and their teams are the key to building a successful and sustainable future for the next generation. Labour has been consistent in this belief from the very start a hundred years ago and will continue to champio
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