Robert Abela on Xtra: the highlights

Government has a renewed vision for the environment. This couldn’t have been made clearer than it was in this week’s interview with the Prime Minister on Xtra on TVM.

The PM also discussed key priority areas, policies and challenges that characterised his premiership.

These are the five key takeaways. 

The breaking news of the relocation of AUM Campus and Dormitory.

The plans for the AUM campus and dormitory originally earmarked for Senglea and Żonqor will be moved to Smart City in Kalkara. The land will be returned to the government which will in turn rehabilitate the areas for the community — a move which was very well received as it will be ‘saving’ ODZ from development, ‘giving the land back to the people’.

The campus and dormitory will be relocated to Smart City which is already earmarked to house the Centre for Vocational Education Excellence, with the ITS Campus expected to move there as well. Circa €41m from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility will be used to set up this hub as part of the Government’s objective to enhance quality education. Relocating the AUM Campus to this site was praised as a win-win situation.

The renewed priority given to the environment

The decision to tweak the original plans for the AUM Campus and dormitory demonstrates that the Prime Minister and government are listening to the public’s concerns and recognising the areas that really need attention. It is widely known that the environment is one of the foremost concerns of the general public, as they wish to enjoy more green spaces and witness more sustainable solutions across all sectors. The decision to relocate the AUM campus and dormitory shows that the Prime Minister and government are listening to the people, and are committed to striking a balance between development and the environment. This bold move reflects the new, bolstered priority that the government is giving to the environment.

The PM and government are listening to the people, and are committed to striking a balance between development and the environment.

Improving quality of life

Throughout the interview, the Prime Minister mentioned the several measures introduced to safeguard the public’s quality of life, addressing the needs and challenges of the various demographics within our society. The Prime Minister was pleased, and rightly so, to remind us that the government managed to keep energy prices at bay despite the energy crisis currently taking Europe by storm. Other countries, including the United Kingdom, saw an increase in their energy, electricity and gas prices.

There were increases, however. The Prime Minister mentioned the increase in pensions, stipends, the in-work benefit, and the free medicines for IVF treatments and rare diseases. The Prime Minister showcased a wide-ranging stretch of support to different members of the community with the aim of ensuring improved quality of life for everyone. As he has said on numerous occasions: we need to ensure that no one is left behind.

‘Team Malta’ beat the pandemic

In addressing the pandemic, a group of experts the Prime Minister calls ‘Team Malta’ were crucial in order to control the virus, limit redundancies and maintain a stable economy despite the unprecedented challenges.

It was a mammoth task which involved stakeholders such as the MCESD, medical experts, representatives from the tourism industry and others. Although government led the way, the Prime Minister was pleased that experts from various backgrounds and political beliefs, moved forward as and when required, to discuss and find solutions. And it is thanks to ‘Team Malta’ that we are here today with a successful vaccination programme, eased restrictions, and renewed hope for 2022 and beyond.

Malta completed the FATF Action Plan to get off the increased monitoring

During the interview, the Prime Minister also said that the FATF Action Plan has been completed and Malta continues to make good progress in its fight against money laundering and counter-terrorism financing.

One of the items at the very top of the Prime Minister’s priority list since he took office in January 2020 was to strengthen democracy, good governance and rule of law in Malta. Numerous reforms were implemented, and legislative amendments introduced.

In 2021, the EU Rule of Law Report hailed Malta’s reforms and noted that the system of judicial independence notably improved. The Venice Commission also positively welcomed the new system of judicial appointments.

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