[WATCH] PN launches 100 proposals for Gozo

Tax exemptions for businesses, incentives to purchase propererty, a tunnel and the re-nationalisation of the Gozo Hospital in the PN's manifesto for Gozo

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil presents the PN's 100 proposals for Gozo
Opposition leader Simon Busuttil presents the PN's 100 proposals for Gozo

The Nationalist Party has launched its electoral manifesto for Gozo, a document containing 100 proposals to boost investment in the island and improve the island’s infrastructure.

Launching the manifesto in Ghajnsielem, PN leader Simon Busuttil hailed the document as proof that his party is “the natural home of Gozitans”.

“Gozo is no longer a mere annex at the end of our electoral manifesto, but has been given its own specific electoral manifesto.”

Notably, any business that opens in Gozo will be granted an income tax exemption of up to €200,000 over three years, while start-ups that open in Gozo will be given a €25,000 grant that will be consolidated with a €75,000 bank guarantee.

All first-time house buyers in Gozo will be waied of all property stamp duty, while as announced earlier, the government will give a €10,000 grant to young families who buy a house in Gozo.

The government will re-nationalise the Gozo General Hospital from Vitals Global Healthcare and will ensure the completion of the Barts’ Medical School.

Busuttil insisted that the PN was never against the Barts Medical School project, and said it had always viewed it as a distinct project from the privatisation of the Gozo, St Lukes and Karin Grech hospitals.

“We consider the Vitals deal as Joseph Muscat, Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri robbing public land and giving it to a businessman with no credibility in hospital management,” he said. “However, the medical school is a separate project run by different people and we agree that it must be built as soon as possible.”

Busuttil also reiterated the PN’s commitment to constructing a tunnel between Gozo and Malta and accused the Labour government of “wasting” four years without starting the project.

“The time has come for someone to give his political commitment towards the permanent link, which will open new and incredible opportunities for Gozo and the Gozitan people.”

The document was drafted by engineer Simon Mizzi
The document was drafted by engineer Simon Mizzi

He suggested that the tunnel project will be completely or partially carried out by the private sector, but refused to give any timelines on when he foresees its completion.

“It will be irresponsible for me to act like Joseph Muscat, when he said that he’ll build a power station in two years when it was clearly impossible,” he said. “What I can promise is that we’ll immediately carry out a stock-taking exercise on the studies that have been carried out and that are still being carried out on the feasibility of the tunnel.

“I believe that the studies will show that the tunnel is a feasible project and, as soon as they’re completed, we will issue an expression of interest.”

Busuttil admitted that some of the proposals in the manifesto are already in the pipleine, but argued that the issue boils down to credibility.

“The PN has a track-record of completing projects in Gozo and indeed every single recent project in Gozo was built by the PN. On the other hand, the Labour government has done nothing except erect a toilet at Hondoq ir-Rummien.”

The PN's election candidates for Gozo attended the manifesto launch
The PN's election candidates for Gozo attended the manifesto launch

What is the PN proposing for Gozo?

• The regional status of Gozo will be enshrined in the Constitution, which will allow the island to tap into up to €250 million of EU regional funds.

• The Gozo ministry will be given more powers and will appoint its delegates to other ministries to promote and implement Gozo’s interests at a national level.

• The Gozo Hospital will be renationalised from Vitals Global Healthcare and the government will emsure that the Barts Medical School will be completed without delay.

• The full subsidised ferry trips wil be extended to all patients requiring medical services at Mater Dei not available in Gozo, as well as to their accompanied carers.

• The government will immediately start working on the proposed Gozo-Malta tunnel project, reinstate the Gozo Channel cargo ferry service to the Grand Harbour within six months, and deliver a fast ferry service within one year.

• A second fibre-optic cable will be installed within one year, and a multi-modal private and public transport ticket will be introduced that can be used for buses, ferries and pleasure boats.

• Any businesses that open in Gozo will be granted an income tax exemption of up to €200,000 over a period of three years, and start-ups that open in Gozo will be given a grant of up to €25,000 that will be consolidated with a €75,000 bank guarantee.

• Gozo’s main arterial roads will be rebuilt, an additional €3 million a year will be allocated for the building, re-surfacing and maintenance of residential roads, a breakwater will be built in Marsalforn and a multi-level car park will be built in the centre of Victoria.

• The government will waive all property stamp duty for first-time dity for first-time buyers in Gozo, give a €10,000 grant to young families who buy a house in Gozo, and invest €4 million to create new family parks.

• A Creativity and Innovation hub will be developed at the site of the former Malta Dairy Products in Xewkija, a ‘Made in Gozo’ Foundation will be set up to promote Gozitan produce, and a MFSA office will be opened in Gozo which will offer the same services as those in Malta.

• A permanent cruise liner berth will be completed in Mgarr Harbour, new marine protected areas will be introduced to stimulate fish population, and the budget for the international promotion of Gozo as a tourism destination will be doubled to €2 million.

• A new primary school will be built in Victoria and the Gozo ministry will develop a state of the art ‘language lab’ to foster multilingualism.

• A pilot project will be launched for the pedestrianisation of town centres during wekeends, new green lungs will be built in urban areas, a €10 million Sustainable Gozo Fund will be set up, and a plan will be drawn up for Gozo to become a zero carbon island region by 2030.

• The government will settle payments to Gozitan farmers to honour past agreements drawn up for the modernisation of livestock farms, and a compensation mehcanism will be introduced to farmers who invested heavily in sustainable and reneable forms of energy and have been delayed by unnecessary bureaucracy to be connected to the distirbution grid.

• All public transport in Gozo will be made free for elderly people and a new old people’s home will be built in Ghajnsielem.

• The entire village of Xaghra will be transformed into a prehistoric heritage trail, the Brochtorff Circle will be opened up to the public, and a heritage park will be set up at Mgarr ix-Xini. A centre for creativity will be opened at Cittadella on the lines of St James’ Cavalier in Valletta.

• An indoor pool will be built in Gozo, sports facilities will be allowed to commercialise their operations, and the development of sports training camps will be incentivised so as to tap into the sports tourism niche.