The Malta Independent 20 June 2021, Sunday

Listening mode

Owen Bonnici Friday, 7 May 2021, 13:54 Last update: about 2 months ago

There are three important questions we have to ask ourselves in the current moment in time, as we are steadfastly looking towards a post-pandemic future.

Firstly, how do we improve quality of life and wellbeing of all citizens?

Secondly, how do we sustain business and employment and drive a strong recovery?

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Thirdly, how do we remain resilient and competitive in a changed world?

As a dear friend of mine, Italian politician Andrea Orlando once told me, asking the correct question is the shortest route to arriving to the best answer. 

Truly, the pandemic has left a marked impact on various sectors, but also offers an opportunity to build a society which keeps moving forward whilst being more inclusive and sustainable.

And indeed, the Steering Group which is tasked with the drawing up of the post COVID-19 strategy has, following consultation and research, concluded that these are the three important questions which we, as a country need to reflect upon and answer.

The Steering group, which is made up of experts hailing from various walks of life and areas of study and is led by Professor Simone Borg, has then built on that and identified four thematic areas per question  - twelve in total - which, in its view, should underpin the forthcoming post-pandemic strategy. 

These thematic areas cut horizontally across all Ministries and range from social themes, green issues and others relating to research and innovation.  I believe that the thematic areas are very well defined and written down and it shows the great attention to detail which the Steering Group gave, and will keep giving, to the whole endeavour.

Before delving further on the issue, I would like to make some remarks.

It needs to be stressed that our nation, contrary to the situation sadly obtaining in other countries, is looking towards this post-pandemic strategy from a position of strength. International experts are anticipating that the Maltese economy will recover quickly and strongly post pandemic, outperforming other EU countries in the process.

This is the direct result of the crucial assistance which the Government has provided to our workers and businesses, saving hundreds of thousands of jobs and keep our country in pole position for a robust economic post-pandemic re-launch.   In fact, our country has been one of three EU Member States in which employment has actually increased last year, rather than decreased.

Also, the Government has been continuously and repeatedly pushing forward reforms according to the plans it has for various sectors of the country, such as social accommodation, construction regulation and governance. At the same time, it is launching and implementing plans for sectors such as tourism which have been hit hard by the pandemic.

The fact that we are in a position of strength and the fact that we have a reformist Government, should not mean that we can simply ignore the need of looking towards the future or refrain from thinking ahead.  And that is precisely why the Government is focused on preparing a vision for tomorrow: a post-pandemic strategy.

A reflection on the kind of Malta of tomorrow we all want our children to grow in is crucial, as renewal is the key to continue being successful as a nation.

It is very important that the post-pandemic strategy is one for the people, which is built in a spirit of openness and collaboration.  The Steering Group has, in the past 8 weeks held more than 40 meetings, and more will be held in the coming days.

Indeed, we have to make sure that the strategy is intimately related to the people, coming directly from the people.  And it is in this spirit that today week, we have launched a public consultation on the twelve thematic areas underpinning Malta’s National Post-Pandemic Strategy.

The consultation period is open until 31st May 2021, and the strategy will take into consideration the feedback received through this consultation and ongoing stakeholder discussions.  Anyone wishing to participate can do that by going to www.consultation.gov.mt

Through this consultation any person can comment on the thematic areas put forward by the Steering Group.  One can also propose other areas or suggest amendments to the current ones or push forward initiatives which could eventually be taken under those thematic areas.

This is a beautiful opportunity to bring people together in a spirit of unity and create, as a nation, a vision which is based on what we truly believe and we want to achieve as a nation, looking ahead.

The strategy, which will be published before the end of the second quarter of the current year, has the potential of creating a strong basis of national consensus upon which then to keep building a better Malta.

I really believe that this is an opportunity which should not be missed by the people at large and we, on our part, are definitely in listening mode.

 

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