Government set to issue call for proposals to build swimming pool in Gozo

Gozo minister Anton Refalo dismisses Opposition criticism of having 'wasted' three years before deciding to construct a tunnel between Malta and Gozo 

Gozo minister Anton Refalo delivers a speech in Parliament
Gozo minister Anton Refalo delivers a speech in Parliament

The government will next week launch a request for proposals to construct a swimming pool in Gozo, Gozo minister Anton Refalo announced.

Speaking in Parliament during a Budget debate on his ministry, Refalo said that the pool will include swimming areas accessible to elderly people and people with a disability, and that some of its opening times will be reserved for schoolchildren.

He hit out at the previous administration, who he said had applied for a MEPA permit to construct a swimming pool using funds allotted to the “Eco-Gozo” vision – “but had afterwards shelved the plans due to funding problems”.

Moreover, he said that a feasibility study on the setting up of a second fibre optic cable between Malta and Gozo is complete, and that Malta Enterprise is now analyzing whether the project should be funded through public funds, EU funds, or through a Public Service Obligation.

He rubbished the Opposition’s accusation that the government had wasted three years to analyze whether Malta and Gozo should be connected by bridge or tunnel, only to go for the latter option as had been proposed by the previous administration.

“Does the Opposition think that we could have built a tunnel in three years?” he questioned. “It has no credibility to criticise time delays; after all, it had taken them 17 years to build Mater Dei with concrete only fit for pavements, and 20 years to extend the St. Mary cemetery in Xewkija.”

Refalo similarly dismissed his counterpart Chris Said’s criticism that Gozo’s capital expenditure in next year’s Budget has decreased from €16 million in 2015 to €6 million.

“The Opposition doesn’t even know how to read the Budget estimates,” he said. “Doesn’t it know that our EU funding package is currently in its final phase and that another one is incoming? All ministries’ capital expenditures have decreased.” 

Toasting his government, he said that Gozo Channel made a €942,000 profit in 2015, compared to a €770,000 loss in 2012 and that the Gozitan economy has grown at a rate of 4.8%, compared to a 1.2% increase in 2012.