A state of denial does not erase success
“Living in a state of denial can only be a useful defence mechanism for some until it uncovers their weakness. It does not change reality for anyone else, except for the few who believe in fantasy.”
Unfortunately, I do not recall the name of the person who said this, but the phrase came to mind while listening to the Opposition’s reaction to Labour’s 9th Budget last Monday. Parliament’s schedule provides them with a weeklong period in which to come up with serious criticism and counter proposals. It seemed that was not enough time – as it has not been for the past six years either.
However positive and understanding I always try to be, I cannot but admit that some people are so negative that they prefer being thought of as living on a different planet. On all the grim faces on the opposite side of the House one could perceive a certain amount of disbelief in what was being said in the official reaction to the 2019 Budget. It was evident that denial was the best way to handle what they cannot handle.
In politics, denial does not solve challenges or problems, let alone find solutions. All of us engaged in serving the country should know well that denial compounds problems, rather than seeking ways of resolving them. This was in fact what led Labour to mount its campaign towards the massive election victory in 2013 and to an even more historic one in June of last year.
No wonder it took Prime Minister Joseph Muscat only 24 hours to give his analytic and clinical reply to what had been stated by the Opposition. It took him just one day to further reveal their political vacuum that survives only by clinging to a continuous state of denial, flavoured by endless attempts at tarnishing the country’s reputation. The strongest financial package ever is in itself is the best response to all the subtle or overt manoeuvring by those who are constantly obsessed with denigrating the country’s institutions and, consequently, the nation’s prosperity.
A constitutional role
It is indeed very sad that those responsible for what is expected to be such an important component of our democracy are so reluctant to accept the rules provided by the Constitution. Basically, that is what all their manoeuvring and inconsistent positions amount to: total disrespect for their constitutional role in a civilised country.
Irrespective of this negative attitude, the Labour Government moves on as a compact and determined team to secure and strengthen further success in the well-being of the people. The Budget for 2019 is yet another step forward in our roadmap towards progress and innovation that ensure healthier economic and social foundations for today’s – and future – generations. Come January, the Maltese and Gozitans will start reaping, both individually and collectively, the prosperity that the whole nation has garnered over the past six years under a Labour administration.
Let us not forget that Malta and Gozo are forging ahead with a second consecutive surplus, while neighbouring member states in the EU are undergoing severe EC testing and warnings, despite proposing cuts in social measures and increased taxation to make ends meet. The radical change that Labour has brought about since 2013 in strengthening and diligently managing our national wealth has created such a peaceful and business-as-usual mentality and approach by our people with every budget that Professor Scicluna announces.
It is such a positive reality that people are no longer concerned about what measures will be included in Budgets, as they well know that the annual financial package is no longer a matter of tricks but, indeed, a long list of treats for everyone.
Benefits for Gozitans
While the Budget debate for the individual Ministries will be continuing during the coming weeks in Parliament, it is already common knowledge how Gozitans will benefit during 2019. The massive growth and a record almost 30 per cent in the Budget allocated to the Gozo Ministry will certainly have a positive impact on Gozitans. This Budget includes strong and direct measures for Gozo and Gozitans which, in itself , is a clear statement of the government’s commitment to the development of Gozo and Gozitan aspirations.
The Gozo Ministry is constantly aiming at creating more employment in Gozo, attracting investment and enhancing economic and tourism growth. Over and above the provisions in all sectors to all citizens and families on a national level, Gozitans will see their particular requirements addressed further with specific fiscal and financial support and/or incentives.
The regeneration of Mġarr Harbour, the Gozo Aquatic Centre, the Gozo Museum, the Health Centre in Victoria and the Park & Ride project will add to the heavy investment in embellishing major town squares in Victoria, Xewkija and Sannat – some of which have already begun while others are in the advanced planning phase. Necessary work on the road infrastructure will also be carried out, now that the allocated funds have increased from €1.8 million to €4 million, giving the Ministry additional funding to include the Xlendi and Marsalforn master plans.
With regard to Gozo’s vital tourist industry, the thematic festivals and cultural activities during this year have created real wealth for the island. Gozo has never seen so many people visiting and, by September, 4.4 million had crossed between the islands. The success achieved encourages us to finetune such events in the coming years while adding further impetus to promote, among others, the film industry in Gozo.
Despite the customary criticism from the usual quarters, the Budget for 2019 is clear evidence of the commitment and success of the government in creating wealth for our people and our country – Gozo included. It is also a demonstration of confidence in the Ministry for Gozo in this record budget for Gozo.
Gozo Day was commemorated last Sunday with the ‘ Ġieħ Għawdex’ Awards Ceremony held in Independence Square, Victoria, organised the Gozo Ministry in collaboration by Circolo Gozitano, under the patronage of President MarieLouise Coleiro Preca. The day also marked the remembrance of the capitulation of the French in Gozo on 28 October 1798 under the leadership of the Gozitan Archpriest Saverio Cassar, as a result of which the French occupation of Gozo only lasted for 141 days.
This year’s Awards were presented to my predecessor and long-serving politician, Dr Anton Refalo, and to Paul Cassar, the renowned librarian who has served as General Secretary of the Leone Band Club of Victoria for many years. I congratulate both Dr Refalo and Mr Cassar for their many years of service to Gozo’s community, albeit in different fields. The intention of the annual award is to honour individuals and/or organisations that have contributed to the social, cultural and economic development of Gozo. Such annual events should encourage and stimulate the civic spirit among future generations for the preservation and promotion of Gozo’s distinct identity.