[WATCH] Country was kept safe, Prime Minister says in new year’s message

Prime Minister Robert Abela says country needs ‘just a little more time’ to get out of the woods as he delivers a message of optimism and hope for the new year

Prime Minister Robert Abela
Prime Minister Robert Abela

Decisions taken during the pandemic kept the country safe “medically, economically and socially”, the Prime Minister said in his new year message.

An optimistic and upbeat Robert Abela said he was proud the country was in good shape as it faced the prospect of a gradual exit from the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, he also sounded a word of caution that the country needed “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,” Abela said.

But his 15-minute address was largely an optimistic overview of the past year and a message of hope for the future.

“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 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,” Abela said.

He showed pride in the work of medical professionals, workers ensuring law and order, other frontliners, businesses for securing jobs and the elderly for enduring sacrifices.

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

He reflected on the financial support the government afforded businesses to help them keep afloat and the social and infrastructural investment announced in the budget.

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

Abela listed his government’s priorities for 2021, with the environment topping the list.

He said sustainability was crucial to safeguard the environment for future generations.

“The environment is ours, but it is also for those who will live in our country 100 years from now… 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,” he said, adding that 2021 represented the start of the road towards achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Education will be another priority, while investment will pour into social housing projects and the disability, elderly, youth and sports sectors.

Abela said the four-year waiting period for people to be able to get a divorce will be removed in 2021 and pledged that changes will be enacted to ensure more women are elected to parliament.

“I will also continue to make sure women are appointed in executive positions,” he added.

 The Prime Minister posited Gozo as a showcase for economic policies based on the digital switch and the environment.

“I’m looking at 2021 with optimism and positivity. Have 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,” Abela said.