Owen Bonnici – (Minister for the National Heritage, the Arts, and the Local Government.)
Last month’s unemployment rate was 2.9%, the lowest level ever recorded in our nation’s history. This means that in July, the actual number of unemployed people in our country dropped again to 925, following a decrease of 617.
This took place against the backdrop of very good economic growth by EU standards. In fact, Malta’s economic growth is the highest in the block, with an increase to 9% in the second quarter: more than double the average rate.
The percentage of unemployed workers in the labour force (known as the unemployment rate) is crucial to effectively gauge of the nation's economic wellbeing.
According to preliminary estimates from the National Statistics Office, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the second quarter of 2022 was at €4,100.4 million, representing an increase of €526.6 million, or 14.7 per cent (14.7%), when compared to the same quarter of 2021.
This means that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is seeing an increase of 8.9 per cent (8.9%) in volume terms.
A rise in GDP levels effectively is testament of an economy that is solid, and that the nation is moving forward. GDP measures the monetary value of final goods and services. It counts all of the output generated within the borders of a country. An increased GDP is interpreted as a sign that the economy is doing well. When GDP thrives, employment will likely increase as companies hire more workers and people have more money in their pockets.
In this regard, the President of the Eurogroup, Paschal Donohoe, has pointed out the vision that Malta put forward in the Plan of Recovery and praised it.
In a statement, the Nationalist Party (PN) said that while the figures for Malta's growing economy are on the right track, the Government must ensure that everyone benefits from it and that the cost-of-living issue is also addressed.
On this point it is important to stress two facts. First, the Opposition maust be aware of the continuous investment and record expenditure that the Government is doing for the benefit of the Maltese and Gozitan families and the development of the country. Secondly, a Nationalist Party in Government had increased energy bills and essential services, essentially placing the pressures directly on the people, rather than absorbing them itself.
In contrast, this government has a clear priority in continuing to help the people and therefore increasing the investment in our families, rather than reducing it.
Despite the enormous global challenges, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the oil crisis, and the war in Ukraine which effectively affect the international community, the jobless rate in Malta is still decliningand the economy is growing.
In the face of these considerable challenges, these are positive signals of progress under the headship of a determined and focused Prime Minister, Dr Robert Abela.
This motivates us to keep working as a government that acts responsibly and sustainably, while being there for our families and businesses.
Cleaning and consolidation works are being carried out in Fort Delimara to improve the Fort’s stateand provide better accessibility to its main areas.
In the past year, extensive works have been carried out by Heritage Malta and other organisations inside the Fort, some of which included the cleaning of underground areas as well as the main square of the fort.
Alien structures were also removed from when the fort was used as a pig farm some years ago, some of which were considered dangerous.
Great efforts are being put in by Heritage Malta, which ensures that upkeep efforts on the fort reflect the dignity it deserves.
I paid a visit to the Fort to see for myself the works that have been undertaken and I could see a marked difference from the last time I had visited the place during my first term as Culture Minister.
This cleaning exercise effectively gives an opportunity to Heritage Malta to provide scheduled visits to this impressive piece of military history. There is a lot of work which still needs to be done in order to bring the Fort in a total state of cleanliness, let alone restoration, but through the efforts which have been put in during the last months, people can now enjoy more access to this fort.
The public has always shown interest in sites with military history, as evidenced by the encouraging turnout whenever the fort is opened for a day of guided visits.
Such projects demonstrate the Government's commitment to cultural heritage.
The Delimara Fort was built between 1876 and 1878 to guard the coast of the port side of Marsaxlokk and is an example of a classic Victorian coastal fortification. One can still see four cannons of 38 tons from the six that were there when the fort was used for military purposes.
The fort remained operational until 1956, until it was used as a farm for more than 25 years. Fort Delimara is now under the protection of Heritage Malta and has been since 2005.
Delimara Fort is one of the most interesting examples of the military historical heritage of the British Era. Rightly so, because this is a very imposing structure that, apart from the fact that it is large and full of unique military aspects, also contains cannons of inestimable value.
Unfortunately, over the years, this fort was allowed to deteriorate, so much so that it was even being used to house animals as a farm for several years.
The challenges of this site are not small. It is enough to see the impact that the waves and the current are having on part of the structure.
But this work that is being done aims to protect and protect as much as possible the heritage that our fathers left us.
I thank the workers at Heritage Malta, and I look forward to when there are scheduled tours in this Fort so that more families can enjoy the cultural heritage of our country.
Libya was, sadly, once again in the news following fights and subsequent deaths which occured in Tripoli.
It pains me to see our neighbouring country encountering immeasurable difficulties in the quest of becoming a full democracy with functioning institutions. I sincerely augur the best to the Libyan people who, along the years, have been a strong partner of our nation.
Undoubtedly the country has a strong potential to be a leader not only in the Maghreb region, but also in the Mediterranean. I hope that, with the help of the international community, stability reigns supreme so that all the efforts are put in the advancement of the quality of life of Libyan families.