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Tender For Gozo Ferry Workers Raises Concerns Over Pre-Election Vote Buying

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A tender for Gozo Channel workers has raised concerns that many will be employed to curry favours and votes ahead of this year’s general election. 

The tender, which expires on 27th January, is looking for a third-party contractor to provide seamen for the State-owned enterprise.

In the past, including the 2017 general election, there have been claims that the government and individual ministers have used the system to provide jobs to voters.

This is not the first time that jobs for votes became the name of the game in Gozo, where the power of incumbency plays a crucial role in the election on the 13th district.

In 2017, there were claims that almost a thousand Gozitans were recruited to jobs with the government or subcontracted agencies in the months before the June election. Daphne Caruana Galizia suggested that hundreds were employed through the Gozo Channel. 

Figures released by the NSO show that over the election season in 2017, between April and June 2017, public sector full-time employment increased by almost 500 jobs.

Meanwhile, the government’s own financial estimates reveal that Gozo’s public service wage bill shot up 40%, from €19 million in 2013 to €27 million in 2021.

Sources speaking to Lovin Malta raised concerns that the practice could be underway again, particularly as Malta gears up for a general election. 

By the latest September 2022, Prime Minister Robert Abela will need to call an election. Rumours have suggested that an election will take place between March and May of this year. 

Gozo is set to be a hotly contested district once again with the Labour Party hoping to hold on to its slim majority on the island. 

Justyne Caruana, the disgraced former minister for Gozo and Education, will not be running after resigning from Cabinet. Meanwhile, the PN is scrambling after losing three MPs from the district (Marthese Portelli, David Stellini, and Frederick Azzopardi).

Providing jobs to voters could just be the stepping stone to cementing the Labour Party’s dominance on Malta’s sister island. 

What do you think of the tender?

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Julian is the Editor at Lovin Malta with a particular interest in politics, the environment, social issues, and human interest stories.

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