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A pressure group to lobby for Gozo’s social and economic development

Some comments regarding the possibility of a permanent Malta-Gozo link would suggest that the core issue here has not yet been fully realised by the public and, more importantly, accepted as fact by those who can do something about it.

Until Gozo’s particular problems and needs are fully appreciated and acknowledged, one cannot move on to the next stage — that of debating a solution — and all talk about the subject would be pointless, as no real effort will be made.

How can the feasibility of such a major initiative be discussed outside the factors that will or will not make it work? Indeed very little, and with not much depth, has been said about the social and economic impact of such a cataclysmic change.

To be fair, last Sunday’s conference, promoted by Chris Said in his usual dynamic style, touched on these issues and was a good exercise in bringing out the need for such studies.

However, is Gozo’s social and economic development, so crucial, for the islands’ (and I emphasis the plural) future growth, truly high up on the agenda of the people who count?

If it is, why, after our main parties spent so many years in power, is the loss of our youths to pastures new continuing?

Welcome as they are, are the present investment programmes being made within a feasible plan aimed at Gozo’s core problems, or is their political value an end in itself?

Why is there a complete dearth of ideas or direction from those who put themselves up to be viable alternatives to the present administration, even when they know that their record when in power is the most damning in this regard?

How can they convince us now, when during their time not only was state investment in Gozo non-existent but no effort was made to ease the difficulties faced by its inhabitants seeking a livelihood or to better their education on the mainland, something which the present administration, to their great credit, redressed by transport and accommodation subsidies?

So what are we Gozitans, who are the most concerned, but also our fellow Maltese who believe strongly in the island’s potential, doing about it?

Are our designated representatives whether political or commercial, or other community leaders on board on this, the need to put Gozo on the economic map, and its inhabitants’ right to earn a living on their native island?

We, the Gozo-loving community, have to face the stark reality that the fault rests with us. While we bicker among ourselves, we expect others who may be less sensitive to our needs, and whose ways of putting things forward sometimes verges on patronising, to do the job for us.

What we need then is a properly functioning pressure group, with a brave and innovative vision, who will articulate our case in a coherent and structured way; but also, one with some clout, able to put pressure on the powers that be, which is essential.

Above all we need an independent lobby, one composed of people without self interests, without dreams of self-promotion, who owe allegiance to no one and who do not need to look over their shoulders when taking initiatives in the general interest of our community. And I believe we have capable men to do it, if only we Gozitans would back them.

I suspect there are many like me who are tired of rhetoric from whatever quarter, and so unless people like Franco Mercieca, for one (The Sunday Times, January 16),really wish to pick up the cudgels and address the real problem, then, I’m afraid, this is no more than futile and hopeless labour.

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