We will start a new year, despite all the challenges that surround us, with keen optimism.
Our country will keep moving forward.
Together, we will continue working to deliver the aspirations of our people, for an even better quality of life.
Regardless of the particular international scenario we currently face, we have, and we will continue providing stability, security and peace of mind.
When we look beyond our shores, we see that other economies have stagnated because of high inflation and austerity measures.
And over and above these economic troubles, we have also seen an increase in other unfortunate circumstances overseas, impacting the lives of many and displacing so many families.
This is not what we were hoping for during the pandemic.
Despite all this, however, not only did we not lose hope, but we got back on our feet and rose to the occasion together.
We showcased our strength and values as Gozitan and Maltese nationals.
We chose a path of investment and progress, and not one of gloom or austerity.
We even came to an agreement with all our social partners to deliver the highest increase in the minimum wage our country has ever seen.
And our last Budget confirmed that this government will still support its people.
We cannot be indifferent to the challenges that families are facing.
All the necessary steps must be taken to ensure no one falls behind.
And we did not choose the indifferent route on the international front.
Yes, our country is a neutral state and proud of our status, however this does not mean that we must be indifferent to any suffering.
Our active neutrality must be used as an effective tool in favour of peace and against aggression.
We have emerged as advocates for dialogue and what is in fact right, in all international fora which we engaged in.
I did this as Prime Minister of an EU member state, and as a father, embracing the values which I have nurtured in my own family.
In your name, I spoke about peace wherever I was because we are a country against war and aggression, irrespective of who the perpetrator is.
Our country’s consistent position was appreciated.
And this has led for more trust being bestowed upon us internationally.
We were entrusted with key roles, and from the beginning of next year, more is yet to come.
Delegations from world powers came to Malta for dialogue, as they believe and feel, that we are a country of peace.
I welcomed leaders of Euro-Mediterranean countries here, to take a joint position on shared priorities, in the interest of the region and our citizens.
All this is the result of our country’s strong reputation overseas.
And this reputation was nurtured through our courage to take consistent decisions influenced by our beliefs and values, both in terms of international politics and also in the economic side of things.
And because we believe in people, we believe in peace.
And because we believe in people, we do not believe austerity works.
This is why we supported our families and business and protected them from the wars, and buffered the impact from international energy prices.
Malta is the only country that did not implement harsh policies.
And yet, we have been told that we are being too generous.
To this, we will continue to answer that success will only be achieved through investment, and not austerity.
The government should not be the one to create inflation, and to support this, I can confirm that in the coming days, we will implement more measures that we have already announced, and we will continue working with all our stakeholders to ensure we are successful in our fight against the increased cost of living.
We can do this because our economy kept going at a strong pace.
Not I am saying this: European experts who placed us as the best in Europe in terms of job creation and wealth creation did.
Thus, we can look forward with faith towards the new year.
Not to rest on our laurels, but rather, to invest even more in our country and achieve more success.
The successes we achieved in 2023, including our hosting the Games of the Small States of Europe and the EuroPride, were moments of national pride.
We will look back on these events as a source of inspiration to continue achieving more.
Those situations in which we worked differently, and ensured we understood what the peoples’ priorities really are, will serve as a lesson, so that during the next year, we will work even harder in key areas to ensure our country keeps moving forward.
With education, health and security at the very forefront.
We invested significantly in these areas and will continue to do so in a sustainable way, particularly in our workers.
Throughout the years, as a result of the hard work of many, our country changed for the better.
Economically, it became more dynamic, offering the very best opportunities.
We must ensure that these opportunities are first embraced by our Gozitan and Maltese children.
However, our country is also experiencing new realities such as an ageing population, and this is why we welcome workers from other countries.
I believe we should not take the populist approach and speak about these foreign workers in a disrespectful manner as though they came to our country to cause us harm.
Or as though they are people of lesser dignity or value.
But at the same time, we will continue implementing numerous changes to enhance the regulatory capacity of local authorities, in order to protect the dignity of one and all.
To take heed of the areas in which we already have enough workers and improve the quality in areas where we require additional workforce.
These decisions will be taken as we factor in the needs of our people.
We must look after what makes us intrinsically Gozitans and Maltese: bolster what makes our communities beautiful, and in parallel, implement the necessary change to enhance our environment and improve the quality of life of our people.
We have sown the seed of important reforms, such as the unprecedented licence for those working in the construction industry.
New and needed laws that were never introduced before.
We also took decisive action to protect our environment, such as Ħondoq ir-Rummien.
In 2024, this drive and commitment will continue to increase.
The reforms will intensify, and the change will continue.
Lands that could have been built, will instead be transformed into open spaces.
In 2024, we will also have to take important decisions, for our communities, and how we want to be represented in European institutions.
I am confident that these decisions will be taken respectfully towards one another and will be influenced by our love for our communities and our country.
I encourage the Gozitan and Maltese people to not only come forward in these democratic processes, but I also welcome you to come forward every day, with your thoughts and any ideas you may have for the greater good of our country.
This is the reason why we created the Youth Advisory Forum, which will serve as a direct link between the youths of our country, and the Cabinet of Ministers.
This is our country, and it will move forward in the direction you want it to.
I am certain that like me, you want your country to keep moving forward, for you, your families, and your loved ones.
Together with my wife Lydia, my daughter Giorgia Mae, I wish you and your family a happy new year full of prosperity, good health and peace.