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maltatoday | SUNDAY • 8 MAY 2022 3 NEWS The most affordable 3 mins 4 Economy €4.00 ANGLU Farrugia (pictured) was voted in as Speaker of the House for a third legislature, with the Opposition voting against his re-election. Farrugia was appointed Speak- er in 2013 and reconfirmed in the role after the 2017 election. This is the first time that a Speaker of the House has served for three consecutive legislatures. Opposition leader Bernard Grech said the PN was voting against the nomination of Far- rugia, rueing the absence of any consultation on his reappoint- ment. "This side of the House is vot- ing against the nomination due to the impartiality of the previ- ous legislature," Grech said. "I congratulate him for this legis- lature, and trust he conducts his duty impartially." Prime Minister Robert Abela was prickly at the swipe from Grech, calling it "surreal" that the Opposition leader would question the institutions' im- partiality in its first outing in the new parliament. "For the Opposition leader, compromise means that it's ei- ther his way or no way. We will show with facts that we are ex- tending an olive branch with the role of deputy Speaker to be oc- cupied by a member of the Op- position. Not only did we agree on the principle, but we also agreed on the nominee and we will be voting for the nomina- tion of David Agius," Abela said. Farrugia thanked the Prime Minister for the nomination and promised he would carry out his Constitutional duties to be best of his abilities. "I ask you to collaborate with me. My advice for the new mem- bers is to carry out their work fearlessly and never attack any- one personally," Farrugia said. PN MP and former party whip David Agius was confirmed as Deputy Speaker, garnering a unanimous vote. Opposition does not vote for re-election of Farrugia as Speaker Opposition says no consultation on reappointment of Anglu Farrugia, Prime Minister says Labour will vote for David Agius as deputy Speaker in 'olive branch to Opposition' sensible and sensitive to devel- oping social realities." Digital transition, sustainabil- ity, climate-neutral Gozo An important element in the economic development of Malta will be the use of EU funds that will aid the island's digital transition and the de- carbonisation of the country's economy. "Gozo, where we will guar- antee that at least 10% of all European funds are allocated, will be the place where we run amongst the most ambitious of environmental projects. So much so that we aim that this island will be the first part of the country to become climate neutral. "While these environmental and digital transformations are substantial challenges, they have the potential to be the best economic opportunities we have ever had in this gen- eration." Vella said the pandemic had revealed the importance of the digital economy, and said Malta had to invest heavily to become a leader in such new sectors. "This will require a leap for- ward in skills and innovation in our education system. Dig- italisation must be strong in the public sector, which must ensure it is a tool to deliver a better service to the citizen, to cut down on red tape." Quality of life and environ- ment Vella said that while it was important to safeguard the material livelihood of citizens, especially those in the low-in- come bands, the Labour ad- ministration would be focused on quality of life in terms of health, the environment, work- life balance, and security. "It is time for, apart from speaking on statistics and numbers, that we have indica- tors on people's quality of life and that this measure will be another key consideration in every project or initiative of the public administration and the government. "Our obligation is to safe- guard the interests of future generations – not only of those who are yet to be born, but of those young among us who are starting out in the world and deserve the best care and at- tention that our society must offer." Vella said the administration would treat the environment as a key objective, with the same emphasis that previous administrations had given to the country's infrastructure. "It is not enough to protect the natural environment that our country has – this is an ob- ligation that all those in public entities have through decisions that can affect the state of the Maltese natural environment. "But we need to be innovative when it comes to new public and open spaces in urban ar- eas – and plan more carefully to safeguard the unique char- acteristics of our towns and cities, an important part of our identity and the face of our na- tion. It must be the main ad- ministration to invest for this purpose. Therefore €700 mil- lion will be allocated to these projects." Vella also said reaching cli- mate neutrality by 2050 will require an electric transport fleet, alternative transport modes, but also to fundamen- tally change the treatment of waste and to turn it into an al- ternative source of energy. "The reality is that if our en- vironment is not cared for, our economy cannot continue to deliver. "The government will be there to sustain these changes. But we will also need a change in our culture. We must un- derstand that if we really care for our children, it is now time to take decisive action in fa- vour of the environment. Not only do we expect others to take decisions for us, but we reflect this new priority in the decisions we take every day as citizens, from the small to the big ones. Government will continue to incentivise envi- ronmentally friendly choices."

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