Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi last week referred to Gozo in his first Budget speech, a practice his predecessor in the Finance Ministry had put to rest in the past few years.

This is certainly positive and is evidence that the Government is aware that Gozo needs particular attention, as was actually stated. This is very appropriate in the current political climate in Gozo, where there is a steadily mounting unease regarding the government's work on the island.

The Gozitans feel that the government is not delivering. Dr Gonzi outlined three priorities, the first being "to reduce as much as possible peripheral and double insularity problems". In four weeks' time, from January 1, we islanders will be further penalised by another increase of 25c in the ferry car fare to Malta - the second increase in seven months.

This was increased from Lm2.30 to Lm3 from June 1, an increase of 30 per cent; and now a further increase of 8.3 per cent. This increase does not contribute to the reduction of insularity problems.

Neither, as a matter of fact, has this insularity been reduced by the hopefully temporary disruption of the Malta-Gozo air services. However, the government clearly stated it has no intention of passing on the VAT that is being demanded of Gozo Channel to us Gozitan users.

The government's second priority is "to strengthen the island's economy". The Prime Minister referred to the building of a golf course; the provision of more moorings for yachts; a casino for Gozo (I shudder to think about its side effects among Gozitan families); more artificial dive sites and a recompression chamber.

He said the government is working on a new strategy to strengthen industry and commerce in Gozo and is preparing a new package of financial tools to make good for the disadvantages that these sectors suffer in Gozo due to double insularity, periphery and the smallness of the island's market.

A third priority is "to reduce the social fragility of the Gozitan community". Towards this end the government promises an incubation centre for the establishment of small enterprises in the artisan and information technology sectors, as well as employment and training schemes for workers.

Government also said that Gozo would at long last be included in the programme of rebuilding of roads. It did not promise, on the other hand, to finish the shabby looking Mgarr landing place in the coming year but, at least, there will be a continuation of work.

We Gozitans would be very grateful if the Malta Maritime Authority were to give its reasons for not opening new parking space in Mgarr Harbour to the public, when cars are actually seen parked inside. If this is made available for a small fee, the MMA will begin to earn some income while solving the parking problem in Mgarr.

Government has also earmarked Lm100,000 for the drawing up of a schedule for the restoration and conservation of the Ggantija Temples to improve the tourist product in Gozo.

Why more studies? Had not a previous Nationalist government brought experts, from the University of Pisa and elsewhere, to draw up conservation studies? What happened to all this? It is imperative that Government passes from words to deeds before the temples continue falling apart.

Gozo, indeed, expects the government to make an immediate transition from verbosity to verity.

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