Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 July, 2021 at 2:23 pm by Andre Camilleri
Malta has presented its recovery plan to tackle the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and create a supporting platform for green and digital transitions in a short and medium time frame.
Malta hopes to benefit from a €345 million budget which will tackle the relevant country specific recommendations as well as investing in the environment and digital sectors, Parliamentary Secretary Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi said.
The plan also tackles certain environmental targets which the European Union has set for Malta. Malta has submitted its plan to the European Commission, and its approval is expected within two months, he said.
He also said that “Once the plan is approved, we have until 2025 to implement (it) and benefit from the €345 million investment”.
Zrinzo outlined six areas on which the government based its considerations. These include; clean energy, carbon neutrality and transport, smart and digital economy, strengthening of the health care system, improving educational quality and strengthening of the institutional framework.
Addressing climate neutrality and enhancing clean energy
This first component from the recovery plan will benefit from a total budget of €78 million and the main targets are to create policy reforms and investments which contribute towards a green transition in energy efficiency in buildings.
Zrinzo Azzopardi said that there will be a number of investments in buildings, both private and public. Hospitals and public schools will also be retrofitted will also be going through an overhaul to be more energy efficient and reduce their carbon footprint.
Public spaces, roads and footpaths will also be part of the renewable energy investments in this component of the plan.
Zrinzo Azzopardi announced that as part of the “€78 million budget, a pilot project would be commenced were a near carbon neutral school would be built to serve as a model for the future”.
Carbon neutrality and decarbonising transport
“The second part of the plan is all about addressing the country’s targets to reduce emissions and to contribute towards more sustainable mobility,” Zrinzo Azzopardi said.
This area will be benefitting from a total budget of €111 million and Zrinzo Azzopardi said that investments in the electric vehicle sector and other transportation methods will be made.
Policy reforms also form an integral part of this area. The parliamentary secretary said that “the promotion of public transport and reducing the impact of vehicles in village cores will create more free space and a cleaner environment for all”
With regards to the decarbonisation of public transport, Zrinzo Azzopardi announced that public transport will be changing to zero emission vehicles. This also includes vehicles which are used by the government’s public sector.
Digital, smart and resilient economy
Zrinzo Azzopardi announced that part of the plan is to “promote modernised and secure digital services that are accessible to all”. A budget of €55 million will be allocated towards a smarter economy.
He said that although the modernisation of our infrastructure is needed, “No one should be left behind in the face of progress”. Therefore as part of the investments and policies made in this area an intensive framework will be created to reduce the digital divide.
Investments in government entities would also be made to ensure more secure public relations between the government and the public.
Strengthening the health system
€55 million of the total budget would be spent on improving the health care system in Malta. Zrinzo Azzopardi said that “although the pandemic showed us the strength in our health care system, we cannot stop improving and innovating”.
As part of the budget for the health care system, Zrinzo Azzopardi announced that a new blood, tissue and cell centre would be built in Malta which will improve the services being given through more specialised research.
The digital framework of the hospital would also be improved in this component of the plan.
Enhancing quality education
With a budget of €41 million, Zrinzo Azzopardi said the government intends to tackle the early school leavers problem. “Investing in quality vocational education will support the shift towards pension sustainability,” he said.
Multiple policy reforms were created in this area to strengthen early school leaving prevention measures by “up-skilling and re-skilling” with the aim of developing new educational pathways.
Strengthening of the institutional framework
Zrinzo said that in the final component of the recovery plan, a budget of €10 million has been allocated towards investing in anti-corruption and anti-money laundering institutions.
“An investment in the digitalisation of the Justice system and the courts would facilitate a more efficient mode of interaction between agencies”, Zrinzo Azzopardi said.
This investment would also be backed up with policies which would facilitate the institutions work to combat financial crimes and other serious crimes.