Labour’s broken promises | Chris Said

It’s time to call Labour’s bluff on Gozo. It’s time to remind everyone how Labour has been taking Gozitans for a ride for nine years, and the ride can’t end soon enough

File photo
File photo

As another election approaches, wait for the Labour Party to come up with another long list of bold promises for Gozo. All well and good, that’s what political parties do. But notice how many of them will be promises being made for the third election in a row, assuming Gozitans wouldn’t notice.

Let’s start with healthcare. Labour had promised Gozitans a brand-new hospital with 450 beds, almost double the current capacity of the Gozo General Hospital. The hospital had to welcome its first patients by June 2018. Three years down the line, we are still waiting for the first stone to be laid. What’s more astonishing? Vitals got the Gozo General Hospital for the price of an apartment in shell form: €157,000. In return, it’s receiving €80 million a year in taxpayers’ money. Labour didn’t work for Gozitans, but did wonders for Vitals.

Come election time, Labour will promise once again a cruise liner terminal in Gozo. They’ve been promising it for over ten years, with designs surfacing every time they are forced to try and divert attention from some awkward conversation. Same goes for a new yacht marina that Labour has been promising since its days in opposition. Let’s see where they will promise to place it now.

Labour will promise once again the completion of a recreational park for Gozitan families on the site of what used to be the Gozo landfill in Xaghra, which a Nationalist Government had got rid of and started transforming it into a park. Labour had promised to see the project to the end. The result? Total abandon.

Same with the plans to provide Gozo with a fit-for-purpose and accessible building to host the Courts of Justice. Architectural designs had been published and tenders issued. But everything came to an abrupt halt in 2017, with no word uttered since. So much for a government that prioritizes the quality of life of Gozitans and the rights of people with disability.

The list goes on.

Labour will soon promise that Gozo will have a brand-new home for the elderly. We were told eight years ago, with lots of fanfare and drone footage of the surrounding countryside, that the house in Ghajnsielem would be ready to host its first residents in just 18 months. It’s now an abandoned construction site.

We will soon be told that Labour will address the parking nightmare in Victoria, particularly during the busy summer months, and the increasingly difficult situation in Mgarr harbour. They had promised a park-and-ride service, with ample parking space, and delivered zilch. Same goes for the breakwater in Marsalforn. Lots of press conferences, designs, commitments, and timeframes. Eight years down the line, the breakwater is still a promise.

Wait for Labour to promise once again more learning opportunities in Gozo, with more courses to be made available at the Gozo University Centre. Here Labour did worse than doing nothing. It decreased the list of courses available and the Centre now has far fewer students than it did in 2012.

But the cherry on the cake will be Labour’s promise, for the third election in a row, to create good quality jobs for Gozitans in Gozo. After nine years of Labour in government, the number of Gozitans crossing to Malta for work has more than doubled. A total of 3,750 Gozitans, one out of every three Gozitans in employment, still have to cross to Malta each day for work as the good quality jobs in Gozo that Labour kept promising were never delivered.

Robert Abela will also tell us that we should vote Labour to make sure we bridge the wage gap that discriminates those working in Gozo. The gap in the average salary amounted to €300 back in 2012. Nine years down the line, that gap has multiplied by eleven. An average worker in Gozo earns €3,300 less a year than someone working in Malta. The average annual income of a Gozitan family is €5,500 less than that of the average family in Malta. So much for Labour promising to eliminate the gap with good-paying jobs for Gozitans in Gozo.

Mind my words – all these promises will be resurfacing the closer we get to the election. Robert Abela will make it sound as if Labour has been in opposition all along.

It’s time to call Labour’s bluff on Gozo. It’s time to remind everyone how Labour has been taking Gozitans for a ride for nine years, and the ride can’t end soon enough.