That Prime Minister Robert Abela has not had an easy ride since taking over the helm of the country in January 2020 is an understatement. Those were politically turbulent times with the Nationalist / Repubblika / Civil Society opposition, or whoever calls the shots at Tal-Pieta’, exploiting to the hilt the Caruana Galizia murder.
Barely a couple of months later, the global pandemic reached our shores, threatening to dismantle all the good work implemented in the past few years. Thanks to sound decision making, the country was in a good financial position to tackle the pandemic. Preserving the people’s health while at the same time limiting the financial damage and safeguarding jobs was no easy balancing act. It is fair to say that Robert Abela has passed the test with flying colours. Suffice it to say that all the international institutions are predicting that Malta will be among the forerunners to recuperate from the setbacks suffered through the pandemic.
Amongst the Prime Minister’s character traits one notes his positivity in the face of adversity. When he obtains the desired results, he does not sit on his laurels, but spurs those around him to strive to achieve better results.
In the midst of the pandemic, the government tackled problems which for decades had been swept under the carpet by previous administrations. It implemented changes to centuries old legislation to improve the rule of law. At the same time, it addressed the shortcomings identified repeatedly by MONEYVAL. Although ultimately Malta’s efforts were not acknowledged by the FATF for political reasons despite having zero non-compliances, Abela remains optimistic and supportive of business and workers. Meanwhile, it is encouraging to note that two major credit rating agencies have last week affirmed Malta’s positive credit rating despite the FATF greylisting.
It is in the light of these developments that the government has launched the National Post-Pandemic Strategy aimed at improving the people’s quality of life, strengthening businesses with the aim of relaunching the economy, and maintaining Malta’s competitive edge in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of the strategy is to build a new prosperity.
In the midst of the pandemic, the government tackled problems which for decades had been swept under the carpet by previous administrations.
In the words of the Head of this Strategy, Profs Simone Borg, these three pillars envelope sustainable development.
The strategy will look at maintaining the focus on health and wellbeing. It will prioritise mental, physical and emotional wellness as well as strengthen investment in these areas, together with primary and preventative care.
The strategy also aims to enhance social cohesion and equality by championing inclusion and combatting all forms of discrimination and exploitation to create structures which support and empower communities.
Another key goal in the strategy is that of implementing a more cohesive approach to planning and development which enhances the urban environment and enshrines sustainable practices. The strategy will prioritise forward planning to ensure planning regulation is fit for purpose.
Investment will be channelled towards the creation of national parks and green spaces.
Business investment initiatives will be aimed at encouraging competitiveness, quality, and sustainable growth, to foster a ‘can do’ business approach and support openness to international business and new niches.
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.
I believe that Labour has always been the only catalyst of change on these islands. It was bold enough to introduce a raft of changes which the Conservatives, perennially subservient to the local Catholic church, did not even dare think about, lest they and the party lose its patronage and the votes this brought with it.
While some blabber and engage in political shenanigans, Labour looks forward and works to continually improve the people’s quality of life in a holistic manner, instilling financial peace of mind, encouraging physical and mental wellbeing and ensuring family quality time.
Through this strategy and the invitation to the general public to contribute towards its visions and implementation, the government is empowering the Maltese people to believe in themselves and prove that we can truly be rated among the best in spite of our size and lack of resources.
Though empty vessels make most sound, actions do, indeed, speak louder than words. So, following the challenges of the past 18 months, heartened by the government response to the tests we have faced, which have brought bigger countries to their knees, I am confident that, under Abela’s safe pair of hands, we have what it takes to build a new prosperity for our people.