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Updated: Muscat candidacy in Gozo would be another gimmick - Gonzi

PL - 'Figment of Dr Gonzi's imagination'

Updated - Includes PL reaction

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi this morning referred to reports that Joseph Muscat may stand as a candidate on the Gozo electoral district and said that this, if confirmed, would be yet another of the Labour gimmicks rolled out this week.

Speaking in a Radio 101 interview in Gozo, Dr Gonzi said there was no logical reason for Dr Muscat to stand in Gozo other than that this would be another electoral gimmick. 

He said Gozo always suffered when a Labour government was in place, and the Gozitans were insulted when Alfred Sant, supported by Joseph Muscat, had demoted the Gozo ministry to a secretariat.

PL REACTION

In a reaction, the Labour Party said that one day after some desperate-sounding claims about Labour's campaign spending, the prime minister popped up again with another hysterical attack, this time on where Joseph Muscat's candidacy might be.

"This is another figment of his imagination," it said.

It pointed out that Lawrence Gonzi was born in Valletta and lives in Marsascala, but at the last election contested the Swieqi district.  

"So much for "gimmicks". It might be better for leaders to focus on policies.  

 And Joseph Muscat will be announcing his second district in the next few days," the PL said.

PN PLANS FOR GOZO

Dr Gonzi spoke on the PN's plans for Gozo. He said the PN would roll out a tourism plan for Gozo which would include incentives for investors and for tourism accommodation upgrading.

There would also be a new ferry service between Grand Harbour and Gozo and if the tunnel project proved feasible, the government would go for it. The eco-Gozo policy would continue to be improved.

Further incentives would be given for SMEs in Gozo, including income tax cuts for those who opened a business in Gozo and employed people. The Gozo Ministry would be supplemented by a Gozo Regional Council which would include the MPs elected from Gozo.

As at present, at least 10% of EU funds for Malta would be allocated to Gozo.

Dr Gonzi also recalled projects and other measures being taken by the government in Gozo including the ferry terminals, the ferries, rebuilt roads, new schools, an allowance over and above the stipend given to Gozitan students in Malta, fiscal incentives for Gozo businesses and more generous schemes than in Malta for those who invested in alternative energy.

Dr Gonzi reiterated his criticism of the PL's energy plans, saying the PL had under-estimated its spending by €200m. The Labour plans, he said, would actually lead to an increase in power tariffs and run the Maltese economy into a wall. The PN, he said, would in the coming days give more details of the mistakes the PL was making in this case.

It was significant, however, that the PL plan was not in line with what the party's own independent consultants had recommended. And the consultants were not being allowed to comment on the plan, he said.

He was seriously concerned, he said, that Dr Muscat was saying he was 'certain' of private sector investment in the Labour plan. Who had the Labour Party spoken to? No one, anywhere else, gave guarantees before a call for tenders was even issued.

Why had Labour opted against a gas pipeline partly funded by the EU, preferring more expensive transport by ships?

Furthermore, how could anyone believe that Labour could negotiate a fixed gas price for 10 years when prices were rising?

Next week or the week after, the PN would publish its own proposals for this sector, including the commissioning of the interconnector in a year's time and a gas pipeline. At the same time, one should recall that the government was discussing a Qatari proposal to set up a gas terminal in Malta to sell gas to Europe.

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