By: Alex Muscat
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 program 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 percent 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 sterilizing 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.
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.