One of the beautiful things about our country is that we intensely love culture, in its different art forms.
It only takes you a small walk in any town during any festive season – be it Easter, Christmas or any other occasion – to realise that for a huge amount of people culture does matter. And that is a huge positive, a wonderful aspect of our Maltese life to cherish.
As a Government we have a crucial role to invest and push forward all different arts forms. As any other person I have my own preferences and tastes about this kind of music or that kind of literature. But it is not about my tastes or what I like- at the Culture Ministry we aim to invest in the various artistic expressions.
Last week we invested and pitched for two different audiences, for instance.
St Gregory’s feast
The first audience was that related to popular culture, and folk music – Ghana.
Wednesday marked the feast of St Gregory, a traditional feast synonymous with our local folk culture which is mostly celebrated in Żejtun and Marsaxlokk. The celebrations also included a religious pilgrimage from the Chapel of St Clement to St Catherine’s Parish and St Gregory’s Church in Żejtun. Traditional għannejja and musicians were also providing entertainment near St Gregory’s Church and also along the Marsaxlokk promenade and any visitor could notice the top-notch level of organisation of the event.
Due to this feast’s close connection to għana, Festivals Malta, we chose to launch this year’s edition of Għanafest in this spot. This year's Ghanafest will once again be held at the Argotti Botanical Gardens in Floriana. In order to make this festival more accessible to local families, activities involving għana and entertainment pertaining to this festival will also be held in Qrendi, Birżebbuġa and Buskett. The last three events will be completely free of charge.
If we do not take care of our traditions, no one will take care of them for us. And we are getting there. I enjoyed, for instance, listening to what established ghannej Mikiel Cumbo had to say about the future of Ghana – that new blood is showing interest in this indigenous artistic genre. For me, that means the world.
Inquisitor’s Palace Open Day
The second audience was that related to cultural patrimony and our rich history.
In line with our policy of opening two historical sites a month for free to the general public, the Inquisitor’s Palace was open to the public for free last Saturday.
3,500 visitors stepped into this magnificent piece of our history. This gem, which is also one of the few remaining Inquisitor’s Palaces from all over Europe and South America is home to a crucial aspect of our history and heritage, and the building in itself is also a treasure from our rich past. The people of Birgu should be and are really proud of this wonderful asset.
May I invite the readers to visit another historical gem next Sunday - the National Museum of Archaeology, which houses the amazing Grand Salon (which I often use for press conferences) and two exhibitions: one related to coins and the other to the FRAGSUS findings about the first chapter of our history.
These open days provide a great opportunity for the public to visit and appreciate our amazing country.
This week was not only about culture, but also about more reforms in the Justice sector
Civil Code amendments – rentals of commercial premises
This week saw the entry into force of amendments to the Civil Code in relation to rentals of commercial premises.
People who run their business from leased premises through a person who is himself or herself a tenant, and whose title ends on the 31st May by law, will be given the right to ask the Rent Regulation Board to keep running their business from the same location for a maximum of ten years. This measure, which was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives, is being taken to protect businesses that are the source of livelihood for owners and their employees. Act VIII of 2018also takes due account of proprietary rights and people who have other evidence of ownership of the properties in question.
I would like to underline that this does not provide an automatic extension and interested parties must make specific application to the Rent Regulation Board no later than the 31st of May 2018.
Reforms in the judicial sector are constantly being done to facilitate people’s lives and we aim to keep on improving this crucial sector.
48 vacant properties
Another reform relates to emendments which we put in place exactly two years ago, with which co-owners of property could ask the Court to sell the property even if some of the co-owners (constituting the minority of all owners) object. Previous Governments had established a five or ten year waiting period. We trimmed that five or ten year waiting period down to three.
In the past two years 48 previously "unsellable" properties were put on the market through this measure and there are another 30 similar requests about to be given the green light by the courts.
This is a green measure which aims at encouraging vacant property to be sold. I think that overall the numbers are good and we seek to urge more people to use this mechanism.
After all, what we do, matters to people.