BUDGET 2021: Government sets up Cabinet Committee to implement recommendations on good governance

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  • Extension of retirement age for Judges and Magistrates to be proposed
  • Research project on Domestic Violence to facilitate service to vulnerable victims
  • Unit that works specifically on the return of immigrants

The government has set up a Cabinet Committee on Governance to implement all the recommendations on good governance and rule of law which have been submitted by the Venice Commission, GRECO and Moneyval.

Good governance and rule of law will “remain a priority” and the necessary reforms will take place to secure national stability, confidence in the institutions, and economic growth.

After the government introduces a package of laws based on the Opinion of the Venice Commission, discussions will continue in a Constitutional Convention which will be chaired by the President of the Republic.

The government promised that it will continue to strengthen the institutions, with the help of experts such as World Bank, which should lead to further strengthening the Attorney General’s Office and in the State Attorney’s Office. This reform phase includes the design of internal structures, administrative procedures and organisational functions of the two offices to ensure transparency and safeguard the rule of law in Malta.

The Moneyval report showed that more is needed in Malta with regard to legislative and technical tools, when it comes to raising awareness of money laundering risks, as well as a proper framework for appropriate action against financial crime. Following the report released by Moneyval in July 2019, the National Coordination Committee for the Fight Against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (NCC) has worked hard to help the competent authorities address all the recommendations. This work has led to a substantial result.

Improvement of efficiency in the judicial procedure

The government is also proposing better efficiency in judicial procedures and Court Services Agency in order to ensure that the best support is offered to members of the judiciary.

An extension of the retirement age for Judges and Magistrates is to be proposed, as well as new appointments in the bench of the Judiciary.

To reduce the outstanding work of the Court of Appeal, the government will be giving the Court the opportunity to hear only those cases where it is considered necessary, and will also introduce the possibility for hearings in civil proceedings to be held through live video conferencing. There will also be an increase in the compositions of the Court of Civil (Superior) Appeals in order to expedite the process on the appeals and having citizens better served and within a reasonable timeframe.

The government will be launching a research project on Domestic Violence with the aim to improve and facilitate services to vulnerable victims of violence. The research will push to improve the overall efficiency of the justice system in this sphere of operation and also launching a training programme for professionals working in the field.

Investing in the construction of a specialised building for the preservation of confiscated assets

The government will continue to invest in the Asset Recovery Bureau through new technologies for the exchange, management and retrieval of information. The government will also invest in the construction of a specialised building equipped with the latest technology to host an asset tracking laboratory and adequate space for the preservation of confiscated assets.

The purpose of this building is to preserve and protect previously confiscated assets before the disposal.

The government will also launch the modernisation programme for the Office of the Government Notary and Chief Archive, which will include the process of the digitalisation of notarial deeds, and ensure that all public deeds and wills are recorded in the public register on time and that all relevant taxes collected by notaries are effectively paid to the relevant entities.

Paceville zone first to try out Safe City zone

When it comes to security, the government will continue to work on developing the concept of ‘Safe City’. Paceville will be the first zone where this concept will be tested.

Local Councils

The government promises to continue investing in local councils, which form part of an important pillar in local government which leading to improving the quality of life in communities. In 2021, the government will be investing to strengthen the structures of the Regional Councils, so that the councils will be able to offer their assistance to the local councils.

Strengthening Civil Protection

Throughout the next year, the Civil Department’s vehicles will continue being changed to newer models with specialised vehicles.

Next year will also see the introduction of the first fire boat for the Department with the ability to extinguish fires and carry out rescues at sea even in bad weather conditions.

Existing fire station infrastructure will also be developed, including ongoing works at the Santa Venera firefighting station.

Immigration

The government’s main priority will remain the prevention of new migrant arrivals and the fight against criminals who put lives at risk.

Its second priority is the return of immigrants who do not deserve asylum in Malta. The government will be strengthening the International Protection Agency and the police immigration division while creating a unit that works specifically on the return of these persons.

Equality and reforms  

The government will be incentivising employers to offer measures that should lead to a better work-life balance, incentivise men to participate more in family life and thus strengthen gender equality.

It will also be establishing a Commission for Human Rights and Equality to address human trafficking, implementing the Gender Equality Strategy and introduce the first National Action Plan Against Racism and Xenophobia. Other reforms, such as for cannabis will also be addressed, while the necessary reforms for equal representation in Parliament will be introduced.

Furthermore, a centre for the LGBTIQ community will be set up, with the aim to bring a number of services and facilities provided by the government and civil society to the LGBTIQ community under one roof, while providing financial support to the LGBTIQ community in bringing Euro Pride 2023 to Malta.

Citizenship

Apart from the new, recently announced national ID cards, the government is cooperating with other EU countries to protect people’s identity and ensure that the islands’ borders are protected from organised crime and the threat of terrorist attacks, a measure called ‘smart borders’.

An itinerary system is being developed in this regard to keep track of every person entering or leaving Malta and Gozo. The government will also be investing in more online services for citizens from the public sector as well as to evaluate how to strengthen the use of digital identity which will facilitate the transfer of information.

Inspections at workplaces will be stepped up to reduce abuses and exploitation of people at the workplace and to ensure that there is no human trafficking or forced labour.

Investment Programmes for Residency and Citizenship will be reviewed and updated while more stringent criteria will be introduced to continue ensuring that individuals who are accepted under these schemes are worthy of having citizenship or residence.

International Collaboration

Primarily, the government will be working towards bringing peace and security in the Mediterranean region in every forum Malta consistently participates in. Apart from continuous communication with Libya to find a political solution to the conflict it faces, during this year Malta maintained dialogue with all countries, especially Mediterranean ones, including Africa which is rich in opportunities. The government seeks to maintain this kind of communication, including EU member states to find new solutions for problems that have been ongoing for many years.

Malta’s Candidature for the United Nations Security Council

The government will continue meetings with Members of the United Nations during 2021 to demonstrate the highly relevant credentials Malta has to offer as a member of the United Nations Security Council, following its candidacy for a non-permanent seat, reserved for state members of the Western European and Other Countries in the Security Council for a two-year term between 2023 and 2024.

Malta needs to obtain the two-thirds votes of the United Nations Members in the election which is expected to take place in June 2022 at the General Assembly in New York.

Police Force and Armed Forces

2021 will be the first full year during which the Police Force will be shaping its work on the transformation strategy which with 49 concrete actions, aims to change the force from a police force to a police service.

The project will start addressing localities which offer greater challenges to address, including Marsa, Ħamrun, St. Paul’s Bay and St Julian’s.

It is also planned to complete the Command and Control Room at the Police Headquarters and modernise the forensic section.

In view of the increase in the prison population, more investment will be made in infrastructure to make better and more effective use of the correctional facilities space. New vehicles will be purchased with the aim of making the escorts of prisoners safer.

The psychology section will also be strengthened and a program for young offenders will be put in place.

The Agency for Crime Victims will be up and running with the aim of bringing together under one roof various services for victims of crime while introducing new ones.

In the Armed Forces of Malta, investment will continue so that soldiers have better tools to work with and the Special Operations Unit will be further strengthened, while communication systems will be improved.

A Security Monitoring Centre with the most advanced technology will be launched when it comes to the Protection of Critical Infrastructure. It will operate 24 hours a day.

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