The soul of our poli­cies

For re­spon­si­ble gov­ern­ments strate­gies are made up of short- and medium-term phases all lead­ing to the fi­nal goals, as dic­tated by poli­cies and in­spired by the coun­try’s needs and chal­lenges.

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS - Justyne Caru­ana

ike all eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial ex­er­cises, Bud­get 2018 is part of a dili­gent plan, spread over a pe­riod of years and im­ple­mented through a ra­tio­nal se­quence of an­nual mea­sures that even­tu­ally be­come an in­te­gral part of the coun­try’s fi­nan­cial, fis­cal and so­cial sys­tem. In a democ­racy gov­ern­ments are aware that their ten­ure of of­fice is part of a longer process that nec­es­sar­ily see al­ter­nate po­lit­i­cal par­ties be­ing elected to ad­min­is­ter the na­tion’s wealth and well­be­ing ac­cord­ing to the prin­ci­ples each party stands for.

It is there­fore un­con­ceiv­able that any party as­pir­ing to be an al­ter­na­tive gov­ern­ment at any mo­ment in time, lacks a clear vi­sion of its own rai­son d’être.

Not in our char­ac­ter

Hav­ing said that, let me be very clear from the out­set: I strongly and un­re­servedly con­demn the de­spi­ca­ble mur­der that oc­curred last Mon­day. It is un­heard of that any­one in the pub­lic eye, for what­ever rea­son, should be si­lenced for­ever in such tragic cir­cum­stances. We sim­ply can­not recog­nise such bar­barism in the Mal­tese or Goz­i­tan char­ac­ter or in our ha­bit­ual ways of ac­cept­ing each other’s views. Be­sides re­spect, tol­er­ance is the least we can of­fer to en­sure healthy demo­cratic de­bate at all rea­son­ably ac­cept­able lev­els.

It is even harsher to con­ceive that any as­pir­ing politi­cian could fall into the in­hu­man pit of point­ing ruth­less fin­gers to at­tract some pop­ulist cheer through such tragic oc­cur­rences. Usurp­ing the na­tional out­cry and ex­pand­ing it beyond all ra­tio­nal lim­its in or­der to score par­ti­san points is cer­tainly – to say the least – proof of lack of hu­man and po­lit­i­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity. From a purely po­lit­i­cal view­point, what we have wit­nessed in Par­lia­ment this week gave enough ev­i­dence that such el­e­ments are still around.

As the Prime Min­is­ter stated so clearly, such fright­en­ing in­stances call the Gov­ern­ment and the Op­po­si­tion to come to­gether and lead the na­tion out of fear. Na­tional re­spon­si­bil­ity should be at the very core of pol­i­tics. It should di­vest each one of us from de­sires for ego-trips.

The bud­get de­bate

Over and above the shock­ing sit­u­a­tion cre­ated this week, the coun­try needs to con­tinue mov­ing dili­gently for­ward and look ahead in its every­day life. This is in fact the pur­pose of de­bat­ing an­nu­ally what the gov­ern­ment plans for the fol­low­ing year. The 2018 Bud­get, cur­rently be­ing dis­cussed in Par­lia­ment, is based on the un­prece­dented suc­cess achieved dur­ing the last four years. It is in it­self a clear and de­tailed state­ment by the Labour gov­ern­ment of how it will pro­ceed in dis­tribut­ing the na­tion’s pros­per­ity with a def­i­nite pur­pose. Cap­i­tal and re­cur­rent ex­pen­di­tures will be fur­ther de­fined by each min­istry through the var­i­ous projects and mea­sures, sup­ply­ing the coun­try’s de­mands and pro­vid­ing for our peo­ple’s in­di­vid­ual and col­lec­tive so­cial and fi­nan­cial well­be­ing.

I will be pre­sent­ing the Gozo Min­istry’s bud­get al­lo­ca­tion for the com­ing year, in­clud­ing the ad­di­tional €4 mil­lion in funds for cap­i­tal and re­cur­rent pur­poses. As a Min­istry for an is­land-re­gion, we will lead and co­or­di­nate the plan­ning and im­ple­men­ta­tion of cur­rent and fu­ture projects in var­i­ous sec­tors, while sched­ul­ing a syn­chro­nised and or­ganic way of do­ing things on the is­land. It is in our re­mit to sus­tain the econ­omy, the en­vi­ron­ment, so­ci­ety, cul­ture and iden­tity that are the ma­jor pil­lars for the well­be­ing of our so­ci­ety. We have to en­sure that all these com­po­nents work in tan­dem, seek­ing sus­tain­abil­ity in each pil­lar through the full re­spect of the eco­nomic and so­cial life of the com­mu­nity.

The gov­ern­ment has al­ready in­di­cated new cap­i­tal projects and in­no­va­tive mea­sures through var­i­ous schemes and in var­i­ous fields, all based on the elec­toral man­i­festo. Job cre­ation is one of the ma­jor pur­poses of busi­ness star­tups which will be en­cour­aged with ap­pro­pri­ate fis­cal in­cen­tives in key pri­or­ity ar­eas while small busi­nesses will be strength­ened to be able to grow within a health­ier eco­nomic sce­nario for Gozo.

A suc­cess­ful sum­mer

Over the past sum­mer months, we have ex­pe­ri­enced suc­cess in the tourism and hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tors. Gozo’s unique­ness as a favourite des­ti­na­tion for both the do­mes­tic and for­eign vis­i­tors was con­sid­er­ably en­hanced by the Min­istry’s ini­tia­tives for a more ef­fec­tive pub­lic clean­li­ness and a mul­ti­tude of cul­tural events and the­matic fes­ti­vals. These will be ex­tended to the shoul­der and win­ter months in a bid to at­tract a year-round tourism flow.

Lat­est sta­tis­tics this week show that 7,466 cruise pas­sen­gers vis­ited Gozo dur­ing the third quar­ter of the year. This was up by 4,717 or 171.58 per cent on the same pe­riod last year, when the num­ber stood at 2,749.

Con­sid­er­ing that on a na­tional ag­gre­gate, cruise pas­sen­gers reg­is­tered dur­ing the first nine months of 2017 stood at 482,855, a rise of 7.6 per cent over 2016, vis­its to Gozo prove a far bet­ter share for our is­land be­tween July and Septem­ber this year. How­ever en­cour­ag­ing, such two is­lands dur­ing the third quar­ter this year. This shows an in­crease of 1.9 per cent when com­pared to sum­mer last year, not­ing also that the num­ber of ve­hi­cles also in­creased, this time by 3.7 per cent, to­talling 463,585. Gozo Chan­nel has in fact op­er­ated a to­tal 6,334 trips, show­ing an in­crease over the same pe­riod last year.

Our so­cial com­mit­ment

Two spe­cial en­gage­ments I had this week touched on the so­cial sit­u­a­tion of the Goz­i­tan com­mu­nity, and took me back to my pre­vi­ous re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in the el­derly and dis­abil­ity sec­tors. The an­nual con­fer­ence by the Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion of Gozo, a very ac­tive vol­un­tary or­gan­i­sa­tion, this year fo­cused on a very in­trigu­ing theme – Il-Be u Jien (My Noth­ing­ness and Me). To­gether with pro­fes­sion­als and other stake­hold­ers, we dealt with the is­sue of lone­li­ness. Through ex­pe­ri­ence in the Men­tal Health ser­vices, lone­li­ness is af­fect­ing all spheres of the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion, be it in child­hood, ado­les­cence, adult­hood and old age. We are aware that one could have peo­ple around him through­out the day, at home or else­where, and still ex­pe­ri­ence a deep, per­va­sive lone­li­ness.

I stressed the fact that the is­sue is also af­fect­ing chil­dren at a young age who lack the pres­ence of par­ents or adults when re­turn­ing home from school. Un­sur­pris­ingly, this can lead to their vul­ner­a­bil­ity be­ing threat­ened when seek­ing at­ten­tion else­where. So­ci­ety is bound to ad­dress such in­stances at the ear­li­est pos­si­ble in or­der to avoid that ne­glect and iso­la­tion which can have a se­ri­ous detri­men­tal ef­fect on one’s men­tal and phys­i­cal health.

Dur­ing another sem­i­nar about fu­ture chal­lenges for ac­tive age­ing in Gozo, I dwelt on our past ini­tia­tives to se­cure the nec­es­sary em­pow­er­ment for those who feel fit and de­sire to stay ac­tive within their own fam­i­lies and their com­mu­nity. Hun­dreds of fam­i­lies with el­derly rel­a­tives re­mem­ber how I man­aged to ex­tend home care ser­vices to Goz­i­tan per­sons too, the pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship schemes to ac­quire hun­dreds of ad­di­tional beds, be­sides open­ing day cen­tres for ac­tive age­ing in var­i­ous lo­cal­i­ties.

The Gozo Min­istry is fully com­mit­ted to fur­ther en­hance those mea­sures, while fo­cus­ing on the com­ple­tion of one of Labour’s land­mark projects – the Home for the El­derly in Għa­jn­sielem, tar­get­ing the first ever 500-bed avail­abil­ity level for our Goz­i­tan el­derly. This we will do in ad­di­tion to fur­ther ini­tia­tives for night­shel­ters, day-care cen­tres and re­spite ser­vices.

Es­sen­tially, this and much more is the soul of our poli­cies and strate­gies!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.