Peace of mind that our country is moving in the right direction.
This is what we worked towards in the past twelve months.
And we will continue to guarantee this in the time to come.
This is an objective that we will work on and achieve together, united, as one.
What we wanted was that after the enormous challenge of the pandemic, families will not only be able to plan for the year ahead, but also for the future.
In a country where new opportunities are created for our children and our youths, and increased support is given to our pensioners and all those most in need.
In order to achieve these goals, our country has a renewed plan in place.
A plan chosen by you earlier this year in the most democratic process which is also robust and open. That is, the general election.
Your choice was not only about one political party or another, but about what future you want for our country.
You chose a work plan which consists of a thousand proposals aimed at building a beautiful future together.
Challenges are inevitable, but we have shown, time after time, that as a country we are able to address any given situation and transform challenges into opportunities.
Whilst we never tried to minimise the significance of what is happening beyond our shores, we never came to you and discouraged you.
Notwithstanding the global context which we find ourselves in, we continued taking decisions, locally, to encourage you further, because thanks to your hard work, we will continue moving forward together.
This year was very important as we earned the trust to return our country to full normality.
In fact, in recent weeks, we received one confirmation after another that showed how our country recovered quickly, and how our economic performance is amongst the very best.
Reports from international and independent institutions confirm that our economy is going strong, and this will enable us to support families by increasing the children’s allowance, senior citizens by increasing their pension, first-time buyers by introducing new grants, and the most vulnerable with tailor-made support for their specific needs.
We are using our economic growth to ensure that every person that lives in Malta will be able to live a better life, in a caring society, and a more beautiful country that offers the very best quality of life.
Therefore, I emphasise that our country’s economic success must go hand in hand with social progress and increased civil rights.
We will have a robust society if we continue in our reform plan to increase justice.
Because quality of life is not just about better financial income.
2023 needs to be the year in which we will continue implementing strong social changes that build on what we have already achieved in recent years.
I believe that the time has come for our society to send a stronger message on the safeguarding of women’s rights.
Now that we have the largest female representation at the decision-making level, it is crucial that we make even bigger strides in protecting women’s rights.
I always believed, that having so many women entering the workforce would serve as the basis for them to have more freedom in other areas.
Regrettably, however, we were becoming increasingly more aware of the many realities of women that suffer in silence, just because they are women.
And although some might say that there will always be situations where the system would appear to have failed, we would be mistaken if we don’t do what we can so that every girl in this country has peace of mind that this society is here to protect her.
Where rights will not just be on paper, but there will also be the will and the resources for them to be upheld.
When we discuss equality and take a strong position against domestic violence, when we insist that every woman’s life is safeguarded, together with her health, we are actually talking about the quality of life of your daughter, your mother or your sister.
These are not just theories: these are real life experiences of those closest to us in our everyday lives.
Unfortunately, negative experiences have once again occurred that upset me personally, both as a father and as a politician.
No reform receives full agreement. And we never made changes that were not followed by a discussion. I say – that’s how it should be.
Because it is as a result of this same discussion that the right choices are taken.
As one country which is united, without any negative words that harm or separate us.
There is one choice that must not be considered: that is, to accept the status quo or ignore the realities as though they don’t even exist.
Because when we choose to be scared of change, by using the excuse that the majority of the population is comfortable as is, we will be ignoring all those who have been suffering, and slowly, slowly are losing hope.
And this is something that we should not accept.
In parallel, we must not accept the status quo in the environmental sector.
This year, we outlined our new priorities.
We took a decision within the first 100 days of the new Government to protect a large plot of ODZ land in Żonqor, saw that Ħondoq is safeguarded, and transformed other spaces into projects to be enjoyed by families.
Does this mean we have done enough? Of course not.
This is why in the coming months we will speed up our efforts to strengthen our foundations, and ready ourselves for even more ambitious projects.
I am convinced that we will succeed because I have faith in our country.
And it’s not just us that have faith in our own country. Other countries have faith in us as well.
We are going to start serving on the United Nations Security Council.
We will also be hosting, next year, a Summit that brings together all the southern member states of the European Union.
We were given the seal of approval from FATF for the reforms we implemented.
These are all strong indicators of how our country is heading in the right direction.
And these positive indicators will see us into the new year with optimism and enthusiasm.
Above all, with peace of mind that Gozo and Malta have a beautiful future ahead, in which together, we ensure a better quality of life.
On my behalf, on that of my wife Lydia and Giorgia Mae, and on that of the Government, I wish you all a splendid year ahead.