The National Statistics Office a few days ago issued the GDP growth indicator for 2013 that was set at +4.4 per cent in nominal terms compared to 2012 and +2.4 per cent in real terms.

Such a positive result means that economic growth was practically double, at the very least, to what was registered in 2012 under the previous administration.

This result is also exceptional when compared to the EU overall scenario, where Malta stands out on its economic performance throughout.

This result was the inevitable outcome of the hard work and decisive actions this new administration has implemented. However, as the Prime Minister has stated, the best is yet to come.

This strong result can only instill in us the confidence and new strength to continue on our relentless work to ensure more prosperity and wealth for our country. Economic growth means more national wealth that, in turn, translates itself into a better standard of living and creation of jobs for all citizens.

Nonetheless, let me be clear, this is only the start – we have just reached the milestone of the first year of this new legislature. We are surely on the right track as these indicators and the recently announced EU economic forecasts have shown. From now on, we can only step up the momentum further. We are not only decisive in creating further economic growth but we also want to ensure that such creation of wealth is distributed among all the strata of our society – a fair and equitable distribution of wealth is another of our stated objectives.

As the Prime Minister has stated, the best is yet to come

The success of a growing and competitive globalised economy is tied with how we construct and lead our skills. We have a vision for Malta and that is to be among the best innovative and competitive economies in Europe.

In the field of digital economy, a major sector of growth in the coming years, we need to foster a well-built and adequate workforce equipped with the right digital skills for what the future demands.

That is why the government launched the eSkills foundation for Malta. This inevitably leads to a thriving digital economy. Moreover, this measure reflects initiatives in line with European countries to address the demand of quality jobs in the ICT industry.

This idea leads to more ICT professionals working in the iGaming industry. In our prosperous gaming industry, which employs over 6,000 workers and contributes to around 11 per cent of the GDP of our country’s economy, we are on the move to enhance and boost this industry further.

Meanwhile, the government wants to ensure that people are not tempted to get addicted to gambling, which causes great problems for individuals and their families around them. An independent Foundation for Responsible Gaming has already been launched.

Undoubtedly, the government believes in small business entrepreneurs and intends to see them prosper in the coming years. Incentives such as Jeremie and the Employment Aid Programme for Gozitans, together with apprenticeship schemes and work placements, are all proposed to provide a sense of support for everyone who would like to be employed and to create suitable and sustainable jobs. The same applies to free childcare facilities that encourage mothers to return to the world of lucrative employment.

The process to minimise bureaucracy is also well under way. The latter, coupled with lower utility tariffs, is creating fertile soil for our economy to strengthen further. The construction sector has started breathing again, as Mepa tariffs were cut by half. Additionally, first-time buyers have been given incentives to enable them to surpass their initial financial difficulties.

We are getting our finances in order as the deficit is narrowing and imbalances rectified. Our hard-earned success is being acknowledged and endorsed by both the European Commission as well as the credit-rating agencies.

Malta has historically always had a strong interest in maritime matters and this is a logical consequence of both its geo-strategic location in the Mediterranean and Malta’s large maritime space when compared to its land-based area.

Thus it is of supreme value that significance resources be accorded to the marine and maritime field, in which education plays an important part.

One of my responsibilities is the Integrated Maritime Policy, a policy instrument that aims towards shifting from the traditional, isolated governance formation towards a holistic approach that increases the harmonisation between the various maritime sectors, thus ensuring sustainable growth.

The past 12 months have shown that we are more than determined to proceed with the implementation of the various initiatives and the creation of new, also creative, ones on an ongoing basis, to ensure that our country remains on a sound economic footing not only for the present generation but also for the future ones, as should be the prime objective of any serious government.

We are listening to the plights of all sectors. We acknowledge that more hard work still awaits us but our enthusiasm fills us with courage and determination to succeed and deliver what we promised and what we believe is right for Malta.

Edward Zammit Lewis is Parliamentary Secretary for Competitiveness and Economic Growth.

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