Gozo Minister Anton Refalo has called on the Government and the Opposition to come together to see how Gozo, which he said was giving added value to Malta’s economy, could be given the special status it deserved.
Speaking in parliament this evening during the debate on the Budget Measures Implementation Bill, Dr Refalo said that Gozo could never have autonomy or a special status if it did not have any fiscal powers. Also, he said, there could never be devolution of legislative powers if laws directly relevant to Gozo were not passed by a Gozo Council or the Gozo region, even if ultimately, they would have to be rubber-stamped by parliament in Malta.
Dr Refalo said that the concept of regionality was started by former Gozo Minister Anton Tabone and this meant Gozo had the qualities and features which made it distinctly different from the main island. These were sound foundations but since then nothing had been done.
He recalled that the 1996 PL government had put forward the idea of a regional council for Gozo but this did not materialise because the Opposition was against such a council.
The minister said that Opposition leader Simon Busuttil, who had conducted the Malta-EU accession negotiations, preferred to focus on Malta rather than on Gozo with the result that the Accession Treaty never acknowledge Gozo as a region save for statistics only.
Concluding, he said that successive Nationalist governments never wanted such special status for Gozo.