Cost-of-living tops people’s concerns – survey / Malta News Briefing – Friday 31 March 2023

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Updated 1230 pm

Cost-of-living tops people’s concerns

Increasing inflation is the biggest concern for the Maltese according to a Times of Malta survey. The cost of living is cited as the most pressing issue for both individuals and the country as a whole. Last month, the HICP index topped 7%. Although this still ranks as lower than the EU average, it is historically one of the highest for Malta. The survey, carried out by market research firm Esprimi, found that while corruption was listed as the country’s second-greatest concern at 18%, fewer than one in ten cited it as their biggest individual problem, with both traffic and rent prices being mentioned more frequently.

PM announces increase in stipend, children’s allowance

Prime Minister Robert Abela announced an increase in stipends and children’s allowance in the traditional Freedom Day speech in Birgu. He emphasized that new measures would continue to be taken to ensure justice for all. Abela also promised new tax credits to help people with disabilities, which would be implemented soon. He said “in a future and diversified economy,” he looked forward to seeing more women pursue careers in science, math, and technology. (Maltatoday)

BOV anounces €48m profit, no dividend

Bank of Valletta Group today announced the financial results for 2022, reporting a profit before tax of €48.7 million. During the presentation of the results, BOV CEO Kenneth Farrugia described these results as positive for the bank, even if the effect of the Deiulemar settlement left such an impact that the bank decided not to propose any dividends for the year. BOV’s profit before tax for 2022 was €48.7 million. Excluding the effect of the Deiulemar settlement, the adjusted profit before tax was €151.7 million, an increase of €71.0 million or 88% compared to 2021.

Morning Briefing

EP, Commission express concern at rule of law in Malta
During a joint debate on rule of law issues on Thursday, MEPs discussed with Commission Vice-President Jourová recent events and allegations of democratic backsliding in Greece, Spain. As for Malta, the fight against corruption, the investigations and trials related to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, and the overall political culture of the country were the main contentious points. In a speech to the plenary, Commissioner Věra Jourová told MEPs that while Malta implemented a number of reforms, including the judicial appointments, “however challenges remain such as the efficiency of justice and the length of proceedings which continued to deteriorate in recent years.”

FIAU’s imposing of fines deemed unconstitutional
A judge has declared that the administrative sanctions imposed by the Financial Intelligence and Analysis Unit were unlawful and violated the right of the subjects to a fair trial. Phoenix Payments Ltd claimed that its rights to a fair hearing had been violated and filed a lawsuit after being penalized by the financial services watchdog for suspected regulatory violations. Phoenix Payments Ltd was fined €435,000 in 2021, but it contested the regulator’s authority to serve as an investigator, prosecutor, and judge. Madam Justice Demicoli upheld this argument, ruling that the FIAU did not classify as a court as prescribed by law and that its power to impose administrative penalties on the basis of an article on the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, was unconstitutional and therefore in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights.

EP, Commission express concern at rule of law in Malta

Government has announced a new policy for remote working and flexitime. Public officers can apply to work reduced hours without the need for eligibility criteria where work service and prioritisation permit.
The practice of Flexitime will be introduced, through which public officers may request to adjust their working hours up to two hours before or after the established hours. The Public Service will also adopt the Flexi-Week concept. With this new measure, public officers may request to spread the 40 hours of work over four or six days a week. Remote Working is being structured in a way that public officers may benefit from any number of remote hours based on family-friendly eligibility criteria. This will replace the existing Telework arrangements. Up to 20% of working hours may be requested to be worked remotely without the need for any eligibility criteria. This change comes into effect from 3rd April 2023 with a transition period until 15th June 2023. This is the initial phase of the modernisation process. ​

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