Gozo’s contribution to the country’s economic development plunged to its lowest levels over the past eight years, declining by 1.7 per cent between 2004 and 2006, the Malta Labour Party’s acting leader, Dr Charles Mangion has said. This was why, he said, Labour would be committed to creating jobs for Gozitans in Gozo.
Up to 2002, Dr Mangion said, the number of people registering for work in Gozo had been under 500, but under Lawrence Gonzi in the past four years the number had always been higher than 600. In 15 months of those four years, it had even climbed above 700. There were two fewer tourist accommodation establishments, and the bed supply in them had declined by 185.
Dr Mangion said that economic expansion in Gozo needed air and sea communications between the islands, but in the last 3 years Gozo had been 19 months without a helicopter service. In November 2006 the Spanish company operating the service ceased operations.
There were also delays and spiralling costs during the construction of the Cirkewwa and Mgarr quays. Promises about this work have been made by the Nationalist Party since before the 1996 election. In 1998 they said the project would be completed by June, 2003. It was still being built, and from an estimated cost of €20 million, the expenditure was now estimated at €35 million.
After detailed consultations, the Labour Party has drawn up a regional development plan for Gozo, Dr Mangion said. A regional council for Gozo would be set up which would be responsible for an economic and social development plan.
A fiscal and financial statute would be created to attract investment and jobs in tourism, manufacturing, handicrafts, information technology and the processing of agricultural and fisheries products. There would be incentives for engaged and married couples, and one-parent families, who would be helped to buy their first home.
A Gozo tourism authority would be set up, a new helicopter service would be subsidised, social housing would be built and among others they would also build a yacht marina and a golf course.