My role as a parliamentary secretary enables me to encounter many individuals daily. Recently, one individual explained to me how her daughter was able to keep abreast of online learning thanks to one, simple step: we have provided her with a tablet to continue her education and stay connected.
This tablet initiative was made possible only through funds achieved by means of foreign direct investment. We have provided laptops and tablets to children who come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds with the aim to give all students the same opportunity for education.
There is no doubt that investment generated from the individual investment programme has given a great boost to the Maltese economy. In six years, the accumulated investment has reached approximately €1.5 billion. Yet, what many seem to miss is that, from money deposited in the National Development and Social Fund (NDSF), investment projects of around €91.5 million were announced in the fields of health, social housing and sports, among others.
To put it candidly, these funds have saved lives. Thanks to them, we were able to inaugurate the recently upgraded Cardiac Catheterisation Suites at Mater Dei Hospital, an upgrade that saw an investment of no less than €1 million. The existing suites were over a decade old. This upgrade is today resulting in a 60 per cent reduction in the radiation dose levels incurred during cardiac procedures. It also allows for more complex procedures, as well as less invasive ones.
These funds have meant the world to those who have come to need them the most. We have been able to purchase 64 wheelchairs and seven motor mattresses for residents at St Vincent de Paul and residences which fall under the responsibility of Aġenzija Sapport.
Money derived from foreign direct investment was instrumental in funding the initiative for the cleaning and sterilising of government housing estates in times of a global pandemic. Most of the residents in housing estates are elderly and, therefore, most vulnerable to COVID-19. Only last year, a memorandum of understanding was signed by the Housing Authority and the NDSF to build 500 social housing apartments, an initiative worth €50 million.
To put it candidly, these funds have saved lives
I’m sure we all know of the imperative role that NGO Caritas plays in society, striving to alleviate poverty and promote human development and social justice. A €1.5 million grant was dedicated to this NGO in order to regenerate its facilities. By allowing the affluent to invest in our islands in a strictly controlled manner, we are providing aid to those who need a helping hand.
We’ve also all heard of the importance of green and blue infrastructure, whose main components are water management, climate adaptation, less heat stress, more biodiversity, better air quality, sustainable energy production, healthy soils and so on. Such environmental concerns top the list of our worries whenever surveys on general well-being are held among the Maltese. For this reason, we will be conducting an unprecedented investment in environmental projects under this concept within three urban areas in Mosta, Ħamrun and Qormi, with an investment of over €1 million per locality.
I could write about this in great length, elaborating on how applicants and investors have greatly contributed to many philanthropic organisations through donations totalling around €5 million. However, the benefits are not just financial, as Malta continues to attract new investment, talent and human resources that will strengthen our economy, especially within the context of looming global financial duress.
The individual investment programme has reached its capping and is, therefore, coming to an end. We are ready to defend the new residency regulations that may lead to citizenship because we believe in our sovereignty in this area, as enshrined in the very laws that regulate the functions of the EU.
Stakeholder consultations with regard to the extremely stringent new regulations have taken place over the last two years, including with the European Commission itself. Ultimately, our programme is by far more regulated than the various ways in which people from all around the globe become EU citizens every single day.
We will defend our well-thought programme not just for the sake of our economic gains but for the sake of our citizens. Because individuals who opt to invest here and deserve to pass through our sieve are individuals who invest in Malta and in all the Maltese, with all our potential, attributes, aspirations and dreams.
We will protect this symbiotic scenario with all our might.
Alex Muscat, Parliamentary Secretary for Citizenship
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