Parliamentary Secretary for Local Government and Communities Silvio Parnis and Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds and Social Dialogue Aaron Farrugia launched a scheme co-funded by the Norwegian Funding Mechanism entitled, "Small Grant Scheme: Local Development and Poverty Reduction in Urban Communities. The budget for this scheme is of around €1,200,000 and it is co-financed by Norwegian Funds, national funds, and local council funds. This scheme is being implemented by the Local Government Division in collaboration with the Local Councils Association, the National Association for Executive Secretaries of Local and Regional Councils and the Norwegian Association for Local and Regional Councils.
Parliamentary Secretary for Local Government and Communities Silvio Parnis said that the aim of this scheme is to address the socio-economic challenges encountered by localities considered as urban areas through pilot initiatives in physical, economic and social regeneration within these communities. The government chose to address localities which are considered urban because the opportunities for European funds for these localities are fewer than those for other localities.
Each pilot initiative will have a minimum grant of €25,000 and a maximum grant of €100,000. Parliamentary Secretary Parnis that this scheme will continue enhancing urban areas, improve the quality of life of residents and will result in more sustainable living standards. Parnis further said that the chosen localities, namely Valletta, Birgu, Senglea, Bormla, Floriana, Tarxien, Ħamrun, Marsa, Paola, Santa Venera, Pietà and Ta' Xbiex, were chosen because they are those localities which are given the most assistance in terms of social security. Furthermore, should the available budget not be fully exhausted through this call, the Local Government Division reserves the right to issue a further call.
Parliamentary Secretary Aaron Farrugia said that in the same way that each budget measure is aimed at a specific level of society in order to have the desired effect and the best result, EU funded schemes also each have a specific target, this time to address the real challenges of families and residents of localities around the inner harbour area.
He said that government's work to combat poverty and help families live a better quality of life with professional services in the community remains one of the priorities, and with the help of these grants, local councils will be able to implement tangible and good projects which can change people's lives for the better. This was the crux of the discussions and negotiations that we had with the Norwegian government in order to secure these funds.