[WATCH] Joseph Muscat says 2019 will be a better year

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's message on the eve of a new year is a positive one, with a promise of what he called an even better future

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

"2019 will be a better year than the one that has just ended." That is how the prime minister started his new year's message, that 2019 will be better for families, business and the country in general.

"Some might think that with the economy as strong as it is, and with high employment, things can't get any better than this," he said, adding that no matter the negative forces attempting to discourage him, the country was doing well.

"I am satisfied that we were always proven right. Ever person who is positive, who works hard, who loves our country... this is the spirit that is making our country the best in Europe. I believe we can become the envy of the world."

With the country doing so well, he argued, Malta has an unprecedented opportunity to now look to the future instead of having to focus on the worries of the present.

Muscat said that despite the general success in tackling poverty, there were those who were still trying to keep up with the cost of living and the price of their rent.

This, Muscat said, is the reason behind blockchain, investments in artificial intelligence, to secure future employment for the children of the present.

"The best way to invest in the future is to invest in infrastructure. If you can afford to, it is obvious you should opt for an upgrade. This is what we are doing as a country. This is what the surplus we are generating is for," he said.

Muscat applauded this continuous upgrade, from the new power station, which, he says, "brought us cheaper utility bills," to new roads, sewage treatment plants, new systems of waste separation and recycling.

He promised that the government would further accelerate the infrastructural programme with additional initiatives, such as the plastic bottle return programme and a call for proposals to construct a tunnel connecting Malta and Gozo.

Muscat once again said that robots would assist specialists during operations in 2019, and an automated system for distributing medicine to patients in hospital will also be in place in the coming year.

"We also have cultural infrastructure, such as the Arts Museum that will go down as part of the legacy of Valletta as Culture Capital of Europe—an initiative which attracted thousands of Maltese and Gozitans towards unprecedented cultural events and brought hundreds of thousands of foreigners to our shores," he added.

Muscat thanked President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca ahead of the closing of her term. He said that, echoing the general public's views, she has done an exceptional job and "was the critical voice of conscience that the country needed."

"President Coleiro Preca is a vibrant symbol of equality between the genders, and a role model for thousands of women and girls who wish to join public service. The strength of the message that is sent out when a woman occupies the highest role in the State is significant," Muscat said.

Muscat announced that at the start of the new year, a public consultation would be initiated with regards to greater representation of women in Parliament. He said that he is aware that the topic is controversial and has invited some differing opinions, but that it is high time that action is taken on the issue.

For this reason, Muscat said that an open discussion with the opposition would also broach the subject of constitutional reform.

"Change has become an everyday occurrence in our country. It is the essence that underpins the progressive population we have become. In 2019, we become one of the first countries in Europe and the world where youths aged 16 years have the right to vote in national elections," he added.

On behalf of his wife Michelle and his family, and the government of Malta, Joseph Muscat wished a new year full of prosperity, happiness, and good health to the people of Malta.