PN wants Gozitans to decide in referendum on tunnel project

MP Chris Said says a Nationalist government would be cancelling the hospital concession in Gozo since the private operator has failed to abide by its commitments as the party unveils its health proposals for Gozo

MP Chris Said (left) and candidate Josephine Xuereb (right)
MP Chris Said (left) and candidate Josephine Xuereb (right)

Gozitans voting in a referendum should decide whether a tunnel should be built to connect the island to Malta, Nationalist MP Chris Said has said.

He was speaking during the launch of the party's health proposals for Gozo ahead of the next general election. He said the PN remained consistent in how the tunnel process should be carried out when asked what position the party had on the matter.

“Studies have to be carried out by respected experts, and simplified for people to understand. A consultation needs to be carried out, before Gozitans choose how they want to proceed in a referendum just for them,” he said.

In its proposals, the PN said that should it be elected to government, it would be stopping the Steward Healthcare hospital concession in Gozo, and return it back to the people.

Employees working under Steward Healthcare would be retained, he said.

Asked whether the party had costed the possible impact of financial penalties government would incur if it terminated the concession, the Gozitan MP said that money that is no longer paid to the private company will be reinvested. “We have a situation where value for money is not there and the operator has failed to abide by its commitments,” he insisted.

A PN government will also be building a new “modern hospital” in Gozo, which is able to increase health services offered to Gozitans. Services should include MRI, chemotherapy and a “usable helipad” for the transfer of patients to Mater Dei Hospital.

Local plans and development

The MP stopped short of saying whether a Nationalist administration would be changing the local plans in Gozo to limit the number of stories which can be developed when asked about concerns raised by Gozitan mayors last May on what they described as an “unprecedented onslaught” of development in village cores and the countryside.

Gozo regional president Samuel Azzopardi raised the alarm during a meeting of parliament’s Gozitan affairs committee.

Chris Said called it an important step from their end to come together against development. “They have 38 proposals, and we are expecting the government to say whether they will be carried out,” he said.