PRESS RELEASE BY THE OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER Message by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat marking the start of the New Year 2020

Greetings,

The year we are ending together was a year full of challenges.

It was a year of results.

A year of decisions, albeit tough.

Most importantly, it was a year for our people families, the elderly, students and children who are just getting started in the world.

All the decisions I have made, all the decisions we have made, all the future decisions that need to be made, the decisions that need to be taken by those who will be leading the country for the next two and a half years, need to be based on one thing: the needs of Maltese and Gozitan families.

What is politics if not a tool, a means by which we can make a difference to people’s lives?

I am proud that, over the past seven years, I led a government that worked to make this difference in people’s lives.

Looking back at where we were, in economic terms, we can see how far we have come.

Today, we have a thriving economy, one that is not a burden on its people but rather one that is generating wealth for the benefit of our citizens, especially those who need it most.

With an economy that we strengthened yesterday, that we are safeguarding today, and will continue to safeguard tomorrow, we were able to give much needed assistance to the many people who were previously suffering alone in the silence of their home, unable to speak out about the challenges they faced.

We worked to increase wages and salaries in Malta and today they are among the strongest in the European Union. All of this has been done while ensuring an increase in the national minimum wage, and today I am proud that no one can remain on the minimum wage for more than one year.

We were able to support our elderly by increasing their pensions. Why did we do so? Because we recognised that the elderly are among the most vulnerable in society.

We have helped workers by reducing taxes year after year, by giving incentives to work and by helping more people enter, or re-enter, the workforce by providing free childcare.

We wanted to give people with disabilities their dignity. And how could we give them their dignity? Through work. Today I am immensely proud that the number of people with a disability in the labour market is unprecedented.

At the same time, I am proud that we are providing further assistance by giving those who suffer from severe disabilities the national minimum wage, regardless of the fact they are unable to enter the labour market.

It is of great satisfaction for me that we are fighting for those who are most vulnerable in our country.

We are helping young couples purchase their first property.

And those young people, and other couples, who for one reason or another did not have the chance to hold a baby in their arms to call their own, today can do so because of the provision of free IVF services.

We worked to introduce more civil rights, and this government’s legacy is defined by how much we managed to accomplish in such a short time, especially for those persons who for far too long were left on the margins of society.

For many, the introduction of equal marriage was considered to be a possibility in other countries but they never fathomed the thought that it could come true in their own country.

We have worked hard, and are continuing to work hard, to attract new investment. We have created new sectors and strengthened existing ones, and helped businesses to invest more, especially by reducing water and electricity tariffs a measure which has ultimately benefitted Maltese and Gozitan families.

We have seen Gozo grow as well as Malta. In fact, today Gozo is actually growing at a much faster rate than Malta. We managed to achieve this by providing incentives to work, attracting unprecedented investment for Gozo and by giving life to our sister island through countless activities and initiatives.

We began to give a clear and strong signal regarding the environment as we put forward ambitious targets, one of which is the elimination of single-use plastic.

We did not stop there.

We have also introduced other ambitious targets such as the transition from fuel-powered cars to electric vehicles. This will lead to a significant reduction in pollution levels in our localities.

Throughout this year we continued unprecedented investment in infrastructure, as we prepare Malta for the future. Now we truly have infrastructure that can take us to the next level.

We have worked across all sectors, such as health, tourism, education, work, culture, sports, and justice.

This year, that will soon come to an end, was also marked by my announcement that I will no longer serve as the Prime Minister of the Maltese and Gozitan people.

This decision was made because it was necessary, and because I had to shoulder responsibility for the actions and decisions which I did not necessarily make. It needed to be done for the good of the country.

Shortly after the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, I stated that I would do everything in my power to see that justice was done. Today we have made significant leaps forward, thanks to the work carried out by the police, the security forces and those international institutions which offered their help.

While at the end of the day, it is the people who will decide when the case is entirely closed, beyond the legal procedures underway in court, I am satisfied that justice is being done.

Ultimately, I paid the highest price possible since I did not wish to leave my role in this manner. Nevertheless, I am reassured by the fact that I did everything I could have done.

In the coming days, we will be selecting a new Prime Minister to lead our country. Whoever is chosen will have a tough job and numerous challenges but I am convinced that he will do a very good job and will continue to deliver results, based on the strong mandate given to this government by the people at the last election.

Our country now needs to get back on track. As a country, we must continue delivering our social agenda, namely the construction of social housing which is so direly needed by those who cannot do without.

In the coming year, we will continue to invest in emerging technologies, that will generate more employment.

We will continue to invest in the education of our young people at all levels and support their teachers.

We will continue to invest in order to provide the best health services for all Maltese and Gozitan patients.

We will continue to invest in our young people and give them the confidence to participate in decisions that affect the country.

We will continue to invest in women and give them the voice they truly deserve in society.

We must remain positive and optimistic and, above all, proud to be Maltese.

We have to be proud of our Malta.

Malta belongs to all Maltese and Gozitan people.

From the bottom of my heart, on behalf of my wife Michelle, on behalf of my children and on behalf of the entire Government, I wish a Happy New Year to all Maltese and Gozitans, and I wish you great health, happiness and serenity for years to come.

Source: Office of the Prime Minister

PRESS RELEASE BY THE OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER Message by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat marking the start of the New Year 2020

Greetings,

The year we are ending together was a year full of challenges.

It was a year of results.

A year of decisions, albeit tough.

Most importantly, it was a year for our people families, the elderly, students and children who are just getting started in the world.

All the decisions I have made, all the decisions we have made, all the future decisions that need to be made, the decisions that need to be taken by those who will be leading the country for the next two and a half years, need to be based on one thing: the needs of Maltese and Gozitan families.

What is politics if not a tool, a means by which we can make a difference to people’s lives?

I am proud that, over the past seven years, I led a government that worked to make this difference in people’s lives.

Looking back at where we were, in economic terms, we can see how far we have come.

Today, we have a thriving economy, one that is not a burden on its people but rather one that is generating wealth for the benefit of our citizens, especially those who need it most.

With an economy that we strengthened yesterday, that we are safeguarding today, and will continue to safeguard tomorrow, we were able to give much needed assistance to the many people who were previously suffering alone in the silence of their home, unable to speak out about the challenges they faced.

We worked to increase wages and salaries in Malta and today they are among the strongest in the European Union. All of this has been done while ensuring an increase in the national minimum wage, and today I am proud that no one can remain on the minimum wage for more than one year.

We were able to support our elderly by increasing their pensions. Why did we do so? Because we recognised that the elderly are among the most vulnerable in society.

We have helped workers by reducing taxes year after year, by giving incentives to work and by helping more people enter, or re-enter, the workforce by providing free childcare.

We wanted to give people with disabilities their dignity. And how could we give them their dignity? Through work. Today I am immensely proud that the number of people with a disability in the labour market is unprecedented.

At the same time, I am proud that we are providing further assistance by giving those who suffer from severe disabilities the national minimum wage, regardless of the fact they are unable to enter the labour market.

It is of great satisfaction for me that we are fighting for those who are most vulnerable in our country.

We are helping young couples purchase their first property.

And those young people, and other couples, who for one reason or another did not have the chance to hold a baby in their arms to call their own, today can do so because of the provision of free IVF services.

We worked to introduce more civil rights, and this government’s legacy is defined by how much we managed to accomplish in such a short time, especially for those persons who for far too long were left on the margins of society.

For many, the introduction of equal marriage was considered to be a possibility in other countries but they never fathomed the thought that it could come true in their own country.

We have worked hard, and are continuing to work hard, to attract new investment. We have created new sectors and strengthened existing ones, and helped businesses to invest more, especially by reducing water and electricity tariffs a measure which has ultimately benefitted Maltese and Gozitan families.

We have seen Gozo grow as well as Malta. In fact, today Gozo is actually growing at a much faster rate than Malta. We managed to achieve this by providing incentives to work, attracting unprecedented investment for Gozo and by giving life to our sister island through countless activities and initiatives.

We began to give a clear and strong signal regarding the environment as we put forward ambitious targets, one of which is the elimination of single-use plastic.

We did not stop there.

We have also introduced other ambitious targets such as the transition from fuel-powered cars to electric vehicles. This will lead to a significant reduction in pollution levels in our localities.

Throughout this year we continued unprecedented investment in infrastructure, as we prepare Malta for the future. Now we truly have infrastructure that can take us to the next level.

We have worked across all sectors, such as health, tourism, education, work, culture, sports, and justice.

This year, that will soon come to an end, was also marked by my announcement that I will no longer serve as the Prime Minister of the Maltese and Gozitan people.

This decision was made because it was necessary, and because I had to shoulder responsibility for the actions and decisions which I did not necessarily make. It needed to be done for the good of the country.

Shortly after the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, I stated that I would do everything in my power to see that justice was done. Today we have made significant leaps forward, thanks to the work carried out by the police, the security forces and those international institutions which offered their help.

While at the end of the day, it is the people who will decide when the case is entirely closed, beyond the legal procedures underway in court, I am satisfied that justice is being done.

Ultimately, I paid the highest price possible since I did not wish to leave my role in this manner. Nevertheless, I am reassured by the fact that I did everything I could have done.

In the coming days, we will be selecting a new Prime Minister to lead our country. Whoever is chosen will have a tough job and numerous challenges but I am convinced that he will do a very good job and will continue to deliver results, based on the strong mandate given to this government by the people at the last election.

Our country now needs to get back on track. As a country, we must continue delivering our social agenda, namely the construction of social housing which is so direly needed by those who cannot do without.

In the coming year, we will continue to invest in emerging technologies, that will generate more employment.

We will continue to invest in the education of our young people at all levels and support their teachers.

We will continue to invest in order to provide the best health services for all Maltese and Gozitan patients.

We will continue to invest in our young people and give them the confidence to participate in decisions that affect the country.

We will continue to invest in women and give them the voice they truly deserve in society.

We must remain positive and optimistic and, above all, proud to be Maltese.

We have to be proud of our Malta.

Malta belongs to all Maltese and Gozitan people.

From the bottom of my heart, on behalf of my wife Michelle, on behalf of my children and on behalf of the entire Government, I wish a Happy New Year to all Maltese and Gozitans, and I wish you great health, happiness and serenity for years to come.

Source: Office of the Prime Minister