Another quality leap

I was as ever impressed by the Prime Minister yesterday evening when he spoke on the Nationalist Party’s electoral programme and outlined briefly its 125 proposals. He pointed out that the PN in government always looked towards the country’s future and prioritised according to the needs and circumstances of the time. This is why the party has, time and again, been given the mandate to govern by the people.

Our country needs stability and wise leadership
- George Pullicino

We are living in a world of continuous change brought on by the evolutions in technology that are taking place, both at work and in the home. Therefore, one of the greatest challenges that we bravely faced together was the evolution that was necessary to ensure that our country’s economy would remain healthy and offer employment opportunities for all.

Today, we are benefitting from that wise investment. Malta is one of the few European countries whose economy is healthy despite the international economic crisis. This investment in the future was and remains built on the complete trust that the PN has always had in the ability of the Maltese people to overcome every challenge with enthusiasm and creativity.

This trust has translated into numerous proposals that are designed to continue to generate employment, provide incentives for more women to enter the workforce, extend educational tools, maintain sound finances, reduce tax burdens and provide incentives for SMEs. We will hear more about these proposals over the coming days, based on which the PN will ask the people to once again entrust it to govern.

I believe in the people’s sense of responsibility and, therefore, continue to look forward to the future with great enthusiasm. I believe that we all have within us that spark of innovative creativity that ensures that we continue to guarantee a safe and secure future where work, health and education remain the foundations on which we guarantee peace of mind and quality of life for you and your family.

You know where you stand with the PN – January 26.

A beautiful project in the south

Today, I accompanied a large group of visitors on a pre-opening visit to the Sant’Antnin Family Park in Marsascala, a site that, in the 1970s and 1980s, was used a landfill. This park, where works are almost complete, is the product of a €6 million investment with the help of EU funds.

As from next month, our families will be able to enjoy this unique park that boasts numerous attractions, including landscaped mazes (one for children, one for adults), a rock climbing wall, an amphitheatre with a seating capacity of 450, cycling routes, an outdoor gym, picnic areas, a dog park, fountains and a water park. We also built 18 stables and horse riding tracks around the park. The Sant’Antnin chapel was also restored as part of this project.

Marsascala organisations will also benefit from the park. Space will be made available from which the girl guides may operate while sports recreational facilities, including a five-a-side football pitch, will be available.

A farm within the park is being restored, where children may enjoy a petting farm and typical food products will be sold. Over 17,000 trees and bushes will be planted, which will be irrigated from a reservoir that has been built on site.

A visitors’ information centre has been built, which will also serve as an entrance to the Sant’Antnin waste treatment plant. This centre will provide information about waste treatment and the generation of clean energy. The heat generated from the plant will be utilised to heat Inspire’s swimming pool. This park will be managed together with this organisation, whereby the park may complement the facilities available at the Razzett tal-Ħbiberija.

This project is most certainly among the most beautiful ones in the south of Malta – January 25.

French teachers vs Maltese teachers

Jerome Lambert, from the national union that represents primary and secondary school teachers in France (SNUipp-FSU), said that teachers, many of whom a year ago supported Socialist Presidential candidate Francois Hollande, are disappointed by the way they are being treated by a Socialist government. This is why, last Tuesday, they went on strike all over France and participated in a protest in Paris. One teacher stated: “what the Socialist government is offering now has nothing to do with the grand promises made to us before the last election.”

French teachers are saying that Hollande is “running away from the very real problems” in their education system, including too many children in each class and not enough teachers with specialised training to assist children with difficulties.

The large majority of French teachers voted for Hollande in May 2012 as he promised to improve the education system through an increased budget. Yet, Hollande failed to allocate and provide the funds and now wants to increase teaching hours in schools without a pay rise. We experienced this sort of scenario in 1996, when our students were directly impacted by a stipend system transformed into a loan.

In sharp contrast to their French counterparts, Maltese teachers, as a result of a revised collective agreement two years ago, saw an improvement in their salaries and were provided with increased training opportunities.

There has been a great investment in education, including a boost in the number of learning support assistants. The tools utilised in class were also upgraded, whilst a new school was opened every year.

The Government’s efforts in this area resulted in more than 83 per cent of secondary students furthering their studies after the age of 16. This does not mean that there isn’t more to be done. Yet, unlike the French Socialists, we have made good on our promises to teachers – January 24.

More and better jobs

The latest PN electoral campaign billboard points out that everyday, we work hard to guarantee more and better jobs. Everyone in Malta knows that there is only one party that can boast job creation: the Nationalist Party. Under this Government, 20,000 jobs were created and another 5,000 jobs were saved.

Jobs are not created through rhetoric, or promises of a safe government if entrusted by the people. Job creation is the fruit of wise and timely decisions. As a result of the Nationalist Government’s policies, Malta is experiencing the highest rate of gainfully employed and has the sixth lowest unemployment rate within the EU.

We didn’t only facilitate job creation but continued to improve work conditions. Over the past five years, we reduced or removed 25 taxes leaving people with more money in their pocket. These included reductions in income tax for all and further reductions for SMEs and parents who work.

All this while other countries were struck by economic crisis. Only yesterday an article appeared on CTZEN, a Sicilian newspaper for youths, saying that “as the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ reports show, the economic crisis that struck the world does not appear to have impacted Malta!”

The Nationalist Government provides the greatest peace of mind for today’s workers. A government run by Joseph Muscat will be a daily threat to jobs. Our country needs stability and wise leadership and not to be run by the Leader of the Opposition who, two years ago, suggested we follow Cyprus’ example – January 23.

The author is Minister for Resources and Rural Affairs.


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