Our goal is to keep implementing change and improvements for the betterment of our society.
The moment we start becoming the advocates of the status quo, rather than the advocates of change, would mean that our time at the helm of this country is up.
Change is crucial. We live in a highly competitive environment where doing nothing is simply not an option. We need to keep improving and keep doing reforms for a better Malta.
The Asset Recovery Bureau
One of the most delicate aspects of the justice reform was undoubtedly the setting up of a fully-functioning Asset Recovery Bureau.
As anyone with an experience in Government can tell you, one of the most challenging things when you are in the driving seat is to create something new. It is both challenging and exciting. I always think of the Government as a large train- it takes immense effort to change the course of motion of a train, but once you have changed the course of motion, the train would keep going forward with full force.
The setting up of a fully-functioning Asset Recovery Bureau is a sine qua non. It is not only needed for the better administration of justice in Malta, but it is an obligation which stems out of EU membership.
During the past legislature, we have undertaken a whole legislative process for the formal setting up of an Asset Recovery Bureau in full conformity with European Union Directives. The legislative process is in itself a highly technical exercise and requires attention and expertise. However, it is merely a first step. The crunch is the physical setting up of the office and subsequently its efficient running.
Once the law was approved, we appointed a high-level Board to oversee the running of the Bureau. This is made up of Judge Emeritus Dr Joseph David Camilleri in the position of Chairperson, Mr Frankie Mercieca, the Director General for the Courts of Justice as Deputy Chairperson, together with Superintendent Ian Abdilla, Tax Commissioner Marvin Gaerty and FIAU's director, Kenneth Farrugia as board members. Following that a Director from within the civil service was appointed and in turn, a number of employees were engaged following open calls.
All this, of course takes time. Experience thought me that if you try to cut corners with engagement and procurement processes in order gain precious time and hit the ground running the end result would be heavy criticism in the press for "abandoning the principles of good governance." At the same time, if you comply fully with the best practices in the field of engagement and procurement (as we always do our best to do), you end up taking a number of good months and the end result would be heavy criticism in the press for keeping a structure dormant for too long. This being said, I am proud that the Bureau has undergone all the necessary processes for the setting up of a physical office and the engagement of staff without unnecessary delays.
Once the "physical aspects" of the setting up of the office were dealt with, then the next step was to put into effect the parts of the law which effectively give the proverbial teeth to this new Bureau. Crime should never pay and a crackdown on the proceeds of crime is one of the most effective ways how to crush crime itself. By putting into effect the remaining parts of the law, this Bureau has been given more tools to be able to carry out more functions. This is yet another step towards the fight against serious and organised crime, to provide a better and safer environment to our citizens, fitting to a modern democratic country like ours.
This government is committed to keep ensuring that the Asset Recovery Bureau is given the necessary tools to be able to work in an effective manner to be able to carry out its duties proficiently and successfully. Therefore, the Bureau will now be competent in taking control of assets and property which have come from criminal activity. In turn, these will be administered for the community's wellbeing.
The aim is that whoever has acquired any assets in an illicit manner through a criminal act would not have access to this "forbidden fruit", as the Bureau would be tracing, keeping, preserving, administering and selling the held property through a decision of the Courts.
I wish all the very best to the Bureau and the staff in this new and exciting adventure in the field of administration of justice.
Summer Carnival Celebrations
The idea of speaking about Carnival in the middle of summer was a new thing a number of years ago, but now it has changed.
Our country is full of talent, history and art, and we must do our utmost take care of them - that is why this government has put culture and the arts in a centre stage of its policy. This is being done because we truly and wholly believe that this sector, apart from being a fascinating one, is capable to contribute to the country's economy. Through the numerous entities and organisations involved in the culture sector, we aim to provide a vast colourful programme all year round in a manner that makes this sector an inclusive one, thanks to initiatives and events which cater to everyone's interests.
Just this week, we witnessed the 6th consecutive edition of the Summer Carnival - a celebration for everyone to enjoy. This event, spanning over three days, brought together the localities of Buġibba, St Paul's Bay, Qawra and Marsaskala in a colourful celebration involving floats, dances and numerous activities throughout, which also included a traditional ġostra held in Buġibba for two nights whilst the final night of the carnival was held, for the third year running, in Marsaskala. Each year, this celebration becomes bigger and better as we aim to keep on improving year after year. There were more than 100 dancers participating, with 11 floats and 12 companies taking part. In fact, an estimate of around 20,000 people have attended the Summer Carnival, a clear sign that the audience is steadily growing, providing us with the drive to keep on executing events in the culture and creative sector.
All of this was possible thanks to the hard work and sacrifices of those involved in organising the Summer Carnival, who work tirelessly to provide a spectacular, high quality event. Through dedication and investment, we're able to create initiatives and events of a high quality level for our communities throughout the whole year, for locals and tourists to enjoy. Through such events, we're also promoting our local talent and creativity, whilst also safeguarding and strengthening our traditions for years to come and for future generations to build upon.
Another essential factor in the creation of such initiatives is the importance of collaboration. Collaboration is a key essential element to the realisation of well-executed events, and I wish to thank all the participants, Festivals Malta and Local Councils involved for their efforts in producing the Summer Carnival.
I would also like to mention and extend my gratitude to the Cleansing and Maintenance Division. This Division's intrinsic job is always carried out swiftly especially after such a large-scale event, and makes sure that our localities are well taken care of - not only cleaning the land but even and maybe most importantly the sea.
Through such initiatives and with the help of collaboration, we can keep on promoting our cultural sector in a way that it is more accessible to all. Thanks to the energy and drive garnered from our experiences, we are committed to keep improving our country's quality of life for our society's wellbeing.