Gozo’s first minister and former Speaker Anton Tabone agrees that the island should have an autonomous regional council to administer its own affairs.

Dr Tabone was reacting to a call made by Gozo Minister Anton Refalo this week in Parliament for both sides of the political divide to agree on a “special status” for Gozo, including fiscal autonomy.

Picking up on the debate, the Times of Malta asked two former politicians and an economist for their views on this renewed call for a more autonomous Gozo.

The reaction was mixed, with former Gozitan Labour MP Lino Debono rejecting the idea of a Gozo regional authority because it would fuel “more personal pique and flagrant nepotism”.

But Dr Tabone, who was Gozo Minister when the post was first created by the Nationalist Party administration in 1987, said Gozo was a region of Malta and not an extension of it.

While everyone spoke of Gozo as a region, he added, this had to have political and legal grounding through a law that guaranteed a degree of autonomy.

His view was shared by economist Lino Briguglio, who said that autonomy for Gozo regarding fiscal matters and laws relating to social and environmental issues could be beneficial to the island.

However, Prof. Briguglio also sounded a warning that any such move should only happen when the appropriate checks and balances were in place.

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