Prime Minister Robert Abela delivered an upbeat end-of-year message on Thursday, underlining how Malta has performed better than other countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which, he said, will soon be consigned to the history books. 

"Whilst other countries and their people were devastated during this period, in Malta, the best qualities of our people emerged. Solidarity, love towards one another, national unity. These qualities must remain, even after the pandemic is over," he said.

He said he wished to express appreciation to everyone, notably the frontliners, businesses that had saved jobs by showing resilience and the elderly, of whom a lot had been asked.

The prime minister in the recorded message made no mention of the COVID-19 victims and those who were hospitalised. 

"I’m proud of all the people of Malta and Gozo, the people of the George Cross, for their gallantry. We can now see a better future ahead. We’ve been vaccinating our people for the past five days and we’ve already started to get back to the normality we knew. By March, I want our country to have recovered substantially. By May, I want our country to be business as usual. We can all take pride in our country and its people. Other countries had to impose heavy restrictive measures, badly affecting the quality of life, after losing control of infections. But we introduced moderate measures which meant that everyday life could go on. We protected lives and livelihoods," he said.

He observed that employment had risen in Malta since June while other countries suffered unemployment. Malta had not resorted to austerity measures, he said, taking a dig at the former government for 'having done this, even when facing a lesser crisis.'

Abela went over several government decisions, including its opposition to a lockdown, its decision to reopen schools and plans to issue a second round of vouchers in the coming days.

"I’m proud, very proud, that today, at the beginning of the end of the pandemic we have managed to keep the country safe medically, economically and socially," he added.

He also pointed to 'many changes in the good governance sphere' saying the government had brought in reforms that would normally take a whole legislature to do.

He said he looked forward to strong economic growth in the new year, with the government's top priorities including the protection of the environment, social welfare, and measures to ensure there are more women in parliament.

"What we managed to do in the past months should fill us all with courage that this pandemic will soon be consigned to the history books. We will emerge much stronger than we started. We need just a little more time to get there. With every day that passes, the sacrifices will ease. But it’s important to follow directions from the health authorities so that we don’t lose what we managed to achieve together," Abela said. 

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