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.”

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

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.

Fac­ing chal­lenges

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.

Goz­i­tan Awards

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.

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