A budget for growth and sustainability

The budget builds on what has been achieved. The strategy of focusing on intensive growth and spending wisely has been very successful in recent years

Perhaps each and every minister in this government has more responsibilities than their counterparts in other European countries. The truth is that ministers across Europe have very limiting situations – because of financial considerations. When they want to introduce new policies budget constraints kick-in. However, in Malta, this is not the case. The creation of wealth in the Maltese economy means there is the financial muscle to implement change. It is our responsibility now to make sure that the policies introduced, and the investment based on those policies, is effective and provides value.

The budget builds on what has been achieved. The strategy of focusing on intensive growth and spending wisely has been very successful in recent years. How we spend and how we continue to grow is very important. I think in both cases the word sustainability comes to mind. We have to make sure that we sustain growth by having the infrastructure in hand to support this growth. Infrastructure does not mean just roads - it means schools, healthcare centres and housing. It is imperative that all these areas are improved in line with economic growth. The message of this budget is that we should grow together as a society. This is crucial.

The importance of the Maltese language

In recent months I’ve often referred to a major obstacle that the Maltese language faces - the digital world. There is not enough content in the digital sphere and, perhaps crucially, online tools are missing. The budget addresses this by creating the financial resources for a spell-checker.

Perhaps spell-checker is not the correct word, because I am hoping the investment can produce more uses, especially on the grammatical side. This is very important if we want to increase the use of the Maltese language. In business, the English language is often the default one but it shouldn’t be a natural option. I believe that local customers should receive correspondence and advertising in Maltese as a priority. It shouldn’t be just English, and that’s it. I acknowledge that the Maltese language is not the simplest, but I think we should rise to the occasion because, with these kind of tools, there is no reason to circumvent its use anymore.

Security in schools

One of the main concerns of educators working in schools is safety and security. This budget addresses these with investment in the security of schools through new equipment as well as more reception areas. I think these initiatives will do their part in making schools safer, providing a better working environment for the thousands of individuals who work in them.

In addition to this investment, a bill in Parliament is proposing harsher penalties, including longer jail sentences for those committing violent acts in schools. This will help deter unruly behaviour. It is unacceptable that violence takes place in schools, let alone between parents and staff. We have a zero-tolerance approach to these things and the new law will make it even more punitive for the aggressors.

I understand there will be disagreements from time to time. I am sure that in these disagreements sometimes the parent is at fault and other times a school is at fault. It is human nature to make mistakes.

However, taking the violent approach to a problem is no answer, and adults in schools should set a good example to young people.
I like to think these measures were introduced because we listened and saw the need to take action. It can take time for policy changes to see the light of the day, but that is usually because ideas require polishing and proper implementation. I am grateful to educators and other stakeholders for their contributions and assure them that we will continue working on these investments and improvements over the coming months.