The Malta Independent 4 December 2021, Saturday

Positive actions

Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi Sunday, 21 November 2021, 10:00 Last update: about 15 days ago

This week Parliament had time to take a detailed glance at the portfolio of European funds which have evolved into an instrumental pillar to the national budget in developing the country and Maltese society in multiple facets.

A number of projects, which have drawn to a close, point towards the significant leap made in the physical infrastructure of the country, not least the Reverse Osmosis in Gozo, the Marsa and Kappara Junctions, to name but a few. The sound implementation of the Youth Guarantee, the programmes addressing early school-leavers and an extended MCAST campus in Kordin, and upgrades in healthcare, which will culminate in a new regional health centre in Paola, attest also to the impact effected on the social infrastructure of the country. Such impact was built on the back of good governance and deployment of European funds.

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Next year's budget centres on a purpose to mould a future Maltese society on resilient foundations. A purpose supported by the largest ever allocation of European funds for Malta since joining the Union. There are €2.27bn allocated to Malta, part of which will be primarily invested on the strengthening on the social edifice.

It will also be instrumental in our green transition, essentially turning more vital by the day, and making sure it does not leave any casualties. It is also central to the acceleration of the country's process of digital transformation. Significant steps were registered in this regard already, especially in the realm of e-government. The budget continues to build on the assistance already provided to the business community in digitalising their operations and services.

Our impetus shows we have come to realise that the digital domain presents this island, limited in size and natural resources, with an opportunity to redimension its place in the world economically, industrially and commercially.

Over and above a robust multi-annual financial package, which will take us to 2027, we have secured the approval of all the European institutions for the national Recovery and Resilience Plan. In a global context, reeling from an unprecedented shock to the whole value and supply chains, it was an extraordinary European solidarity which led to such a plan, on the basis of which our country has now set its sight on emerging stronger while maintaining its pace on the all-important transitions.

Parliament will vote on the budget next month, presumably endowing the government with the green light to put into practice the wave of social progress envisaged in each measure, not least the strengthening of in-work benefits and pensions targeting the most vulnerable categories in our society.

Climate change, however, will not wait. In fact government is not waiting for the new year to start putting in practice the much-needed policy upgrades. The targeted decarbonisation of transport cannot afford to wait. The extended government subsidy, issued to purchasers of electrically-powered vehicles who choose to scrap vehicles powered by fossil fuels, is already up and running.

It is this readiness to make a meaninfgul impact on the lives of all the people, the key charateristic that distinguishes this administration. My encounters with people from all walks of life are enlightening enough on how many positively feel the presence of the State, are able to sense the effects of decisions and actions and can ultimately trace them back to an overarching logic and vision rooted in a primarily social purpose.

It is this sentiment which lies behind the trust that the Labour Party is able to command after eight years of governing the country. This budget is another confirmation that this administration sides with working families and small businesses, as we fight an unprecedented global calamity by investing in people.

As a government we have made a decision that our way out of global adversity is through a more resilient and just society and we are using the budget to cement and actualise such decision.

It is this consistency, which when compared to the confused conservatism on offer on the other side of the House, yields the trust of the people.


Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds at the Office of the Prime Minister


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