The Malta Independent 18 September 2021, Saturday

Government launches Post-Pandemic Strategy, plans to implement it ‘within three years’

Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 18:41 Last update: about 4 months ago

The Government has launched the National Post-Pandemic Strategy which it plans to address “within three years”, Minister for Research, Innovation and the Co-Ordination of the Post Covid-19 Strategy, Owen Bonnici, told The Malta Independent.

The National Post-Pandemic Strategy rests on three pillars: Improving the quality of life and wellbeing, sustaining businesses and employment, and remaining resilient and competitive as a country.

ADVERTISEMENT

Minister Bonnici will assume the role of coordinator of this strategy.

“Now is the time to start building for renewed prosperity. This is an important step after such a great challenge, which brought so many difficulties for a lot of people,” he said.

The minister said that he doesn’t want the strategy “to end up being kept on paper,” but rather he will consider it a success once it is implemented.

The three main sections are split into 12 sub-sections. First, the strategy will look at maintaining the focus on health and support an enabling environment that promotes wellbeing. It will prioritise mental, physical and emotional wellness as well as strengthen investment and capabilities in these areas, together with primary and preventative care.

This will include, among other things, the setting up of a “multidisciplinary follow up clinic and wellbeing service” for people who had Covid-19, elevate the focus on obesity as a national health challenge, and increase investment in infrastructure that encourages physical mobility.

Detailed studies will be launched on the impact of the pandemic on segments of society. Furthermore, a “population committee” will be set up to report back to the government on the status of different groups within society, and develop “targeted interventions” to counteract educational disruption caused by the pandemic, among other things.

The strategy also aims to enhance social cohesion and equality. Focus will be put on the “under-served segments of the country, championing inclusion, building trust, and combatting all forms of discrimination and exploitation to create structures which support and empower communities.”

The strategy aims to achieve this by building social cohesion on the basis of human rights, equitable wealth generation, and increase in employment.

Another point of the strategy is to adopt a “more cohesive approach to planning and development which enhances the urban environment and enshrines sustainable practices”.

Furthermore, it seeks to “preserve and create green community spaces and parks for public use” as well as to prioritise restoration, regeneration and aesthetics, and integrate alternative mobility in a holistic manner.

The strategy states that it will “prioritise forward planning” to ensure “planning regulation is fit for purpose”. Furthermore, more investment is to be injected for the creation of national parks and green spaces, as well as the revision of planning and building laws, guidelines, and policies “to promote aesthetic and green principles of construction at design stage.”

There will also be initiatives for business investment, “to spur activities that drive competitiveness, quality, transformation and sustainable growth.” This would be done in order to “foster a ‘can do’ business approach and support openness to international business and new niches.”

Transformation roadmaps, safeguarding the current growth rate while cultivating new niches, as well as “regenerating and upgrading industrial zones” are all included in order to facilitate business recovery.

When it comes to education and policy, the strategy aims to change the education sector’s focus, and integrate labour and economic policy to underpin social and economic revival, transformation, innovation, wellbeing and sustainable growth.

This will encourage the education sector to “refocus” and “give precedence to skills development”, modernise and enhance career guidance frameworks, and institutionalise reskilling, upskilling and lifelong learning programmes.

The strategy also emphasises the acceleration of the green economic transition and investment “as a focal point in Malta’s plan towards carbon neutrality by 2050; progress the UN’s sustainable development goals; foster a circular economy; and implement the EU green deal in order to change mindsets and deliver new green jobs and innovation.”

The government will look to “lead by example and work towards the achievement of carbon neutrality plans within its operations. It will also expand investments in energy infrastructure and prompt citizens and businesses to change their attitudes and behaviour regarding the green transition and sustainability efforts.”

Government resources and mainstream policy will also be channelled to drive innovation and focus on outcomes, while addressing “critical blockers that hamper innovation and accelerate private enterprise in start-ups, as well as industry-driven Research and Development and knowledge clusters”.

This will be done by constructing the innovation agenda around challenge or mission-led policy frameworks, addresses critical infrastructure barriers, and by fostering “a culture of appreciation for science across the country and make it accessible to all.”

With this strategy, the government proposed to strengthen and prioritise a compliance and enforcement culture. It will also “nurture a national conscience built on purpose, public interest, good governance, transparency and accountability.”

This strategy promises to “continue strengthen governance and enforcement structures”, step up the fight against tax evasion and the shadow economy as a key pillar of sustainable public finances beyond the pandemic, and to bolster the use of data and evidence in policy-making.

When it comes to digital infrastructure, skills and services, it highlights the need to close the digital divide “to ensure all members of society and all types of business are fully able to embrace digital technology to improve the way we live and work.”

The strategy aims to guarantee that digital and technological access to all members of society, as well as to create the infrastructure for remote working to thrive, among other things.

Furthermore, the need to safeguard natural assets was also addressed. This would be implemented through “systematic education, conservation and the transition towards a more sustainable way of living in harmony with the environment for the benefit of current and future generations”.

The Government will promote collective action across society to instil behavioural change to take better care of Malta’s natural assets and environment, safeguard Malta’s heritage assets as a “sustainable economic driver”, as well as bolster enforcement resources to better protect important natural areas.

Finally, the strategy aims to reinforce disaster recovery preparedness, critical capabilities and ecosystems to enhance resilience. It will also ensure the availability of “critical physical and social infrastructure such as food, water, energy and health as well as digital, air and sea connectivity”.

  • don't miss