A long-term master plan for Gozo, a separate manifesto and the return of the Gozo regional committee after a 50-year absence, were some of the main proposals made this morning by Opposition leader Simon Busuttil during the party's general convention.

The event held at Villa Fiorita in Marsalforn, was part of the PN's public consultation in the run up to its policy document for Gozo.

The convention, which is open to non-party members, was the third one to be held since the statute amendments enacted after the 2013 general election. Engineer and University lecturer Simon Mizzi presided the convention.

In his address Dr Busuttil spoke about the legacy which successive PN governments had left in Gozo, through a series of infrastructural projects.

He welcomed the findings of a Malta Today survey which said that the PN had a two per cent lead over Labour.

Dr Busuttil criticised the Labour government, saying its track record in Gozo was very poor. So far it has just been hot air and propaganda, he said.

Four years into this legislature, there is no fast ferry service, roads are in a poor condition, there is no airstrip, no cruise liner terminal, casino or yacht marina, he added.

While welcoming the setting up of Barts University campus in Gozo, he said that the project which is included in the Gozo Hospital privatisation was tainted by doubts, if not suspicions of corruption.

"The project is shrouded in secrecy, and the contract published by the government was heavily redacted. This is the most corrupt government ever. No wonder questions are being raised on the Gozo Hospital privatisation," he said.

Touching on Malta's 47th place ranking in the corruption perception index published by Transparency International, he said this was no coincidence.

"We are now in the same boat as Namibia, Botswana and Rwanda. We have become the best in Africa, rather than Europe as the PL had promised."

Commenting on the conclusions of the convention he said this was part of the party's consultation to draft a policy document for the sister island.

"My ambition is to have a separate electoral programme for Gozo," the PN leader remarked.

Photo: Mark Zammit CordinaPhoto: Mark Zammit Cordina

Accessibility

Dr Busuttil said that there seemed to be consensus in favour of a permanent link.
This agreement must be expanded on a national level and the PN will work to get nationwide backing for this project, subject to the geological studies underway, he said.

The Opposition leader said that his vision was to have direct transport, like a tramway and metro which is directly linked to a Gozo tunnel, with direct connections to the airport and Mater Dei Hospital.

The Opposition leader also spoke in favour of a second fibre-optic cable link to Gozo which he said was necessary to create more jobs on the sister island.

Gozo Ministry

Prior to Dr Busuttil's address one of the speakers, George Vidal Zammit, questioned the idea of a having a Gozo Ministry in this day and age, saying it could give rise to clientelism.

The PN leader remarked that the idea of a ministry introduced in 1987 had worked but much depended on who was at the helm.

"There could be a separate structure to which the ministry would be accountable and this could be the Gozo Regional Committee which had been abolished about 50 years ago, Dr Busuttil added.

Sustainability

Touching on the economy, the Opposition leader said that the way forward was to have a long-term master plan, which if necessary had to look ahead up to the year 2050.

Clientelism in Gozo

The PN leader also spoke about efforts to address corruption, saying that in Gozo it seemed to be "the elephant in the room"

Clientelism is the symptom of a lack of opportunities, he said, adding that it was no wonder that people were begging the minister for a job or a promotion.

"We should eradicate, and break such chains which the Labour government was created. However, we should not ignore the people's pleas, as we could have done in the past."

The PN leader said that he would address this problem by addressing everybody in the same manner according to their own merit.

In his conclusion, Dr Busuttil noted the pro-active stance taken by the Opposition saying it had put forward proposals on traffic, good governance, retail, pre-budget documents, the environment and the economy.

"Contrary to Labour's 'short-termism' we strive to have a long-term vision and our objective is to have the best policies ever for Gozo," he said.

 

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