THE OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER Prime Minister’s message for the new year, 2021

2020 was a challenging year. A year in which we had to confront the biggest challenge since the Second World War, if not the greatest challenge of all time.

Whilst other countries and their people were devastated during this period, in Malta, the best qualities of our people emerged.

Solidarity. Love towards one another. National unity. These qualities must remain, even after the pandemic is over.

Tonight, I wish to show my appreciation to you all, Gozitan and Maltese families, youths, students, workers, self-employed, senior citizens and those in the commercial community.

I’m grateful to you all!

Together we made huge sacrifices. We wished for a better tomorrow from the very start. That moment has arrived.

We should be proud of all the medical professionals for their unwavering dedication to safeguarding us all.

We are proud of all the workers ensuring law and order – the frontliners coming from all sectors who have given themselves to the service of their country.

We should be proud of businesses for securing jobs by showing resilience.

I’m proud of our elderly of whom we have asked a lot.

I’m proud of all the people of Malta and Gozo, the people of the George Cross, for their gallantry.

We can now see a better future ahead.

We’ve been vaccinating our people for the past five days and we’ve already started to get back to the normality we knew.

By March, I want our country to have recovered extensively.

By May, I want our country to be business as usual.

We can all take pride in our country and its people.

Other countries had to impose heavy restrictive measures, badly affecting the quality of life, after losing control of infections. But we introduced moderate measures which meant that everyday life could go on. We protected lives and livelihoods.

Instead of rising unemployment, as in neighbouring countries, every month since June has seen unemployment fall.

Our unemployment rate is lower than that of half the Eurozone. And we are one of only two countries in all of Europe where job opportunities rose rather than diminished.

We faced this crisis without resorting to austerity measures and putting the burden on the people. That was despite others having done this, even when facing a lesser crisis. Instead, we launched the biggest ever financial aid package for businesses and workers. We managed to safeguard thousands of jobs whilst providing incentives for consumption and saving businesses.

We managed to succeed because we were decisive, not shy of taking action, and we made the right decisions.

How did the people respond to these measures for safeguarding the economy?

By putting faith in us.

Knowing that the Government operates in their best interests helped put minds at rest.

People replied by buying and selling property in record numbers, far outstripping normal times when we did not have a pandemic.

Instead of tightening finances, we distributed vouchers to all. And, in the next few days, we shall do it again – sending out another round of vouchers.

This is what people deserve, not discouragement and negativity.

Even in the worse moments of the pandemic, I refused to do anything to lower morale or kill hope with words such as a lockdown. I have always resisted those who wanted to go in that direction.

I will not say that our decisions have been vindicated. I will leave that judgement to the people. But I’m proud, very proud, that today, at the beginning of the end of the pandemic we have managed to keep the country safe medically, economically and socially.

When planning for the Budget, we wanted to send a clear message that we were giving help to those who had made the most sacrifices, among them the elderly.

We took good care of those in need. That is what those who have a social conscious do, help those who need help the most.

I ask, which other country has increased pensions and children allowance?

Which government had the courage to announce the largest ever investment in industrial infrastructure? We did this whilst we continued our ambitious infrastructural projects, one after the other.

We managed to do so by introducing sustainable measures, without putting new burdens on the people.

This government has a bold vision and direction in which to take the country. Just a few months ago we managed to get the largest ever package of European funds for our country, more than double of what those before us got.

This is what those who love their country do. In the European institutions, they achieve for their country first and foremost. They don’t talk ugly about it. They bring wealth for the people to benefit.

What we managed to achieve this year should instil in us all even more determination.

We managed to achieve a lot despite the troubled times. Now imagine what we could do as we head towards normality.

We managed to bring about many changes in the good governance sphere. We introduced reforms which needed a great deal of determination to achieve but which came about in a short period of time because we were clear about what we wanted from the outset.

In less than a year we managed to bring about change that would normally take a whole legislature to do. This came from hard work, without pausing.

2021 must be the year in which we will start forging forward steadily to create wealth for people and betterment of the quality of life.

I believe that we will have a strong economic recovery. I kept my word during the pandemic, and I will do so again in this new phase we are beginning.

I will emphasise new priorities. Top of the agenda is safeguarding the environment. We need to work tirelessly on sustainability. The environment is ours, but it is also for those who will live in our country 100 years from now. We have an obligation to preserve it for them.

As from tomorrow, the importation of single-use plastic will stop. At the same time, we are working on more recycling, the generation of electricity from renewable sources and better-quality water. As from 2021, the road lays open towards achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Education remains the basis for tomorrow’s society. It was a wise decision to invest some €30 million so that schools could reopen. This decision was important in safeguarding the academic and social progress of an entire generation.

We will continue to help those who need help the most so that no one is left behind. I firmly believe in a caring society. We will continue our social and affordable housing projects whilst working more in sectors such as disability, the elderly, youth and sports.

In 2011 we had those who campaigned hard against people who, unfortunately, did not have a happy marriage, to deny them a second chance to build a family. I’ve always asked myself why did this happen and why someone should have to wait for 4 years, if a marriage has failed, to build a family? I’m very satisfied that we will now remove this injustice from the divorce law.

I firmly believe that we need more women as members of Parliament. I will make sure of this by implementing much-needed changes before the next electoral appointment.

I will also continue to make sure women are appointed in executive positions.

Gozo was and firmly is, at the very centre of our policies. I truly enjoy speaking about Gozitans and Maltese. In the first legislature, this Government managed to increase wealth per capita for Malta to the same median levels of the EU. I will now see that Gozo goes beyond this milestone as well.

We want Gozo to be a showcase for our economic policies based on the digital switch and the environmental.

I’m looking at 2021 with optimism and positivity.

Courage!

What we managed to do in the past months should fill us all with courage that this pandemic will soon be consigned to the history books.

We will emerge much stronger than we started.

We need just a little more time to get there. With every day that passes, the sacrifices will ease. But it’s important to follow directions from the health authorities so that we don’t lose what we managed to achieve together.

On behalf of my wife Lydia, our daughter Giorgia Mae, and the Government, I augur you a year filled with peace, health and happiness.

Source: Office of the Prime Minister