€80 million spent on restoration of 85 historic sites in four years

Restoration projects included work on the facades of Castille and the President's Palace, as well as the Grand Harbour and Mdina fortifications

Ministers Owen Bonnci (centre) and Evarist Bartolo answering questions from the crowd present in Wednesday's public meeting
Ministers Owen Bonnci (centre) and Evarist Bartolo answering questions from the crowd present in Wednesday's public meeting

The government had restored an average of 20 historic sites each year in the four years since the election to the tune of €80 million, justice and culture minister Owen Bonnici said on Wednesday.

Bonnici, who was addressing a meeting in the ‘Gvern Li Jisma’ series at St Elmo with education and employment minister Evarist Bartolo, said that projects covered work on the smallest corner niche to the largest and grandest fortifications.

Most of the work on the 85 projects had been carried out by civil service employees, or the cost would have in fact been much higher, he said.

Amongst the major projects were the restoration of the façades of Castille and the Grandmasters Palace in Valletta, as well as the work on the Grand Harbour and Mdina fortifications and St John’s Co-Cathedral.

“Culture is important for the government not only because it is what goves us our national identity but also because it provides steady employment for many people,” Bonnici said.

He announced that the Arts Council and the Association of Maltese Bandclubs would be signing a memorandum of understanding in the coming days to cooperate in protecting and safeguarding items of cutural value like music manuscripts.

He said that the recent public debate following the destruction of the Azure Window had highlighted the need to protect the country’s historic and cultural heritage.

“We are looking forward to V18 celebrations not only promoting Valletta as Europe’s cultural capital, but also leaving a tangible cultural value behind, once it will be over in December of next year,” Bonnici said.

Bonnici said that that significant changes had also been registered in the justice sector, including through the introduction of the party financing law and the whistleblower act.

Bartolo said he was proud that the government had managed to curb the national debt and deficit while increasing expenditure on education, pensions and the health sector.

“In education, we spent €40 million in four years, where the previous administration spent a mere €13 million over the same time period,” he said.

The minister said that up to four years ago, students in public schools were not given the option to study accounts in secondary school.

“This has now changed and there are currently over 700 secondary school students studying accounts in public schools,” Bartolo said.

The government would also be opening a school dedicated to theatre arts, music and sports in the near future, he announced.

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