“A happy, healthy society requires a pleasant environment. We know that the greening of our environment – and economy – can only occur through a collaborative effort with all players, public or private.”
Last Monday, with the presentation in Parliament of Budget 2022, we revealed our goals and ambitions for a modern, sustainable, and socially just Malta. We promised a budget that would shape the sort of country we want to create for our children, an
d that is what we delivered.
As Parliamentary Secretary for European funds, it was particularly satisfying to finally share this comprehensive vision, which will in so many aspects be supported by European Union funding, achieved through careful planning and intense negotiations in Brussels.
In fact, presentation of this budget came just seven days after Malta’s Recovery and Resilience Plan received it’s final approval from the European Union Council of Ministers for Economic and Financial Affairs (ECOFIN) for which I was prese
nt in Luxembourg. This ambitious plan, which includes 17 investment projects and 30 reforms will be financed through a grant of about €320 million of European Union Funds. A substantial number of projects included in our Recovery and Resilience Plan feature in last week’s Budget speech.
The coming seven years will enjoy the largest allocation in our history as EU Member States – 2.27 billion Euro
– which will be put to good use in a myriad sectors, and which will reach and impact the lives of thousands, as indicated during this week’s budget speech.
I was particularly pleased to observe the feedback on the allocation of EU funding towards the well-being of our soc
iety. The completion of a new hospital for acute psychiatric care will provide specialised, quality care to those in need, and shows our commitment towards mental health. A new Blood Bank, which will not only collect donations, but also process and store stem cells and tissues, will also serve to elevate our health services.
A happy, healthy society requires a pleasant environment. We know that the greening of our environment – and economy – can only occur through a collaborative effort with all players, public or private. We are providing businesses with strong incentives to go green, and to prosper sustainably. The budget is also nudging individuals to transition to cleaner modes of transport and energy, with considerable grants for electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles, and heavy investment in their infrastructure, including the installation of charging points across the islands. It is also envisaged that a new landing facility will be built in St. Paul’s Bay to encourage alternative use of transport. A new nearly-carbon neutral school will also be built in Msida.
Government will also play its part in the necessary transition to a green and digital way of life. EU funding will also be assisting in the digitising of our maritime registry, which will be increasing our efficiency, and boosting our reputation in this international sector. The shore-to-ship project, currently underway at Grand Harbour, will now be extended to the Freeport, which will result in a literal breath of fresh air to Birżebbuġa’s residents and neighbouring towns.
European Union funds will also be directed towards our education system with the aim of reaching today’s young generation and encourage them to continue in their education pathway or else be trained in the new skills that a green and digital econo
my will require in the very near future. The importance of training, up-skilling and re-skilling of our workforce was in fact a major theme in this year’s budget speech.
Despite the challenges of the past year, Government has delivered a comprehensive, social budget, which will sustain our communities for years to come. That is the mark of a truly social-democrat and progressive administration.