Discussions with representatives of Gozitan entities, the dominant theme was that of connectivity with Prime Minister Robert Abela saying the ferry tender is still in the process of evaluation because several protests have been lodged; the Minister for Gozo emphasised the need of a fourth vessel for Gozo Channel.
From a meeting with Gozo Channel it emerged that the company is seeking €10 million euro financial aid from the Government to provide a better service for the many thousands that use this connecting service between the two islands.
The Cabinet Meeting in Gozo saw the participation of various officials from Gozitan groups and associations as well as commercial companies.
The first intervention was made by Michael Grech the new President of the Gozo Regional Development Authority who requested that the Ministries communicate with the Authority before decisions that affect Gozo are taken.
Other speakers included the Gozo Channel Chairman, Joe Cordina, who said the pandemic had a detrimental effect on companies. He continued by stating that to cover maintenance expenses of the fleet and the updated billing system, an investment of €10 million is required by the company and he appealed for this state aid. Cordina emphasised the need of a speedy decision for the addition of a fourth vessel.
Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri spoke of the importance of connectivity and pointed out that the engagement of the vessel ‘Nikolaos’ with the Gozo Channel fleet shows the Government’s commitment to improving connectivity.
After the Cabinet meeting, TVM asked the Prime Minister whether the Government had totally put aside the need for a fast ferry service between Gozo and Valletta. Dr Abela replied that currently the authorities are evaluating the step forward after several objections had been lodged. He said as far as he is concerned the great importance is that what is needed is implemented.
He said he understands that each tenderer has their own position and all wish to be appointed to manage the operation. His final aspiration is that of the provision of an efficient service between the islands to enable greater investment in Gozo because greater mobility and access between the islands is a crucial factor.
Asked whether the Gozo cruiseliner terminal is still in the Government’s plans, the PM indicated this has not been put aside but certain difficulties territorial rights have to be developed.
He said he believes this is an enhancing project for Gozo to create a greater tourism nice that Gozo needs. He further said that certain difficulties have to be overcome and that the stumbling blocks will be overcome.
Asked by journalists about whether the emerging matters about Electrogas he feels the time has come for a Public Inquiry about alleged corruption ties between Yorgen Fenech and Keith Schembri, Dr Abela expressed scepticism as to the way the Public Inquiry related to the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia is being managed.
He said he is disappointed at the experiment in the way the Inquiry is being led and expressed reservations about whether it is fulfilling its brief.
Dr Abela said he believes the case of the powerstation should be carried out by the traditional institutions concerned and not by a Public Inquiry.
Follow the Prime Minister’s comments to questions asked by journalists here:
Prime Minister calls on government agencies to create strategy for Gozo