White paper on the decentralisation of powers in Gozo – GUG debate
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If you pick the right people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings, you almost don't have to manage them."
This was the message given during a debate hosted by the Gozo University Group regarding the White paper of the decentralisation of powers in Gozo proposed during the budget.
The GUG said that "Gozo is quite a discussed topic, as, it is the sister island it suffers certain necessities that all the Gozitans face in their every day life."
"Work and accessibility are the two main topics that always come up when Gozo is discussed. However the problem lies on who tries to come up with a solution. Should we continue on believing that a person who never lived in Gozo, who never faced a problem we Gozitans face come up with a solution for us? Definitely not."
The organisers said that this was the purpose of the discussion, where two main points were discussed, the decentralisation of powers in Gozo, and the fact that Gozo should be enshrined as a region in our own Constitution.
"In his speech during the 2017 National Budget, the Minister for Finance, Prof. Edward Scicluna, stated that in the year 2017 a White Paper will be issued as to commence the consultation process regarding the devolution of powers in Gozo," the GUG said.
The aim of this White Paper is to discuss administrative activities and employment linked directed to Gozo and the eventuality that Gozo would be headed by Gozo itself. Such delegation would empower Gozitans more.
GUG said that it believes that this process is of high importance as no one would truly understand Gozo's difficulties, than a Gozitan himself.
The panel of the debate comprised Former Speaker Emeritus honorary Anton Tabone and Shadow Minister for Gozo Dr. Chris Said. PN Candidate Ryan Mercieca, Dr.Kevin Cutajar were among the audience.
The GUG said that funds are another issue that Gozo itself suffers. "This is one of the reasons why we lack certain projects."
During the debate it was also discussed that if Gozo will be considered as a region in its own constitution, then it may also benefit from EU funds.
"Yes, Gozo benefits from EU funds, however one must also be aware that the funds allocated to Gozo are given to our sister island, meaning that Malta itself decides on how much money is allocated to Gozo and on what should it be spent," said the GUG.
"It will be much easier and much better if the money is given directly to Gozo, and if in the near future Gozo will have the powers decentralised, we as GUG believe that Gozo will move forward; the brain drain will decrease and instead of having an island for retired people we will have an island which offers a lot more than it ever did."
GUG said that one of the first questions asked during the debate was "whether we as Gozitans are proud of our identity, and what does 'Gozo Day' mean for us."
"Both speakers agreed that we have an island distinct from Malta which has potential but is not being used for many reasons, and so we as an organisation ask, are we willing to move past the day Gozo became autonomous or are we willing to work hard together so that Gozo will not lose its identity and instead of arguing about the drain brain we are suffering we start finding solution to all our problems?"
Photograph by John Clyde Grima