Updated – Malta News Briefing – Wednesday 11 October 2023

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Government initiates process to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to become Mayors

The government has initiated the legislative process aimed at allowing local councillors aged 16 or 17 to assume the roles of mayors and deputy mayors. The proposed bill, introduced on Wednesday by Local Government Minister Owen Bonnici and Parliamentary Secretary Alison Zerafa Civelli, seeks to amend existing legislation. Currently, individuals in the 16-17 age group are eligible to both vote and run in local council elections; however, they are ineligible to hold the positions of mayor or deputy mayor, even if they secure the highest or second-highest number of initial votes. If the bill garners approval, councillors under the age of 18 who secure the most votes from the party with the majority of votes can assume the responsibilities of mayor or deputy mayor. (Times of Malta)

BOV to sell non-performing loans

Bank of Valletta has disclosed plans to divest a portion of its long-standing non-performing loan portfolio, with the intention of bolstering its capital and liquidity reserves. In a statement, the bank underscored its meticulous selection of the non-performing loan portfolio through predefined criteria. It referred t its commitment to identifying feasible solutions for customers facing credit challenges, with the ultimate goal of reinstating the loan quality. Nevertheless, in the case of the loans contained within this portfolio, despite the bank’s prolonged efforts to recover the outstanding amounts, borrowers repeatedly defaulted on their commitments and agreed terms. Bank of Valletta clarified that the portfolio excludes loans where default stemmed from health-related reasons. (Maltatoday)

Elderly dies while swimming in Marsascala

An elderly man tragically lost his life while swimming in Marsascala on Tuesday, the police said Wednesday. Reports indicated that the Zejtun man, aged 80 was swimming in St Thomas Bay. He was certified dead on site.

IMF forecasts Malta’s economic growth to be EU highest

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has updated its economic forecasts for Malta, revising the projected real GDP growth for 2023 upwards while making a slight downward adjustment for 2024. In the October edition of the World Economic Outlook, Malta’s growth for this year is now forecasted at 3.8%, marking the highest predicted economic expansion among EU member states. The IMF’s April edition had earlier estimated growth at 3.5% for both 2023 and 2024. However, in the current edition, the 2024 growth forecast has been revised down to 3.3%, still positioning Malta, along with Ireland, as having the highest anticipated growth in the EU.The IMF also anticipates low unemployment rates for Malta, forecasting rates of 3.1% for this year and 3.2% for the following year. (Times of Malta)

Energy support to remain – PM

The Prime Minister reaffirmed the government’s commitment to maintaining energy price stability to support local businesses and households during a pre-budget meeting with the Association of Catering Establishments (ACE) at a restaurant in Tas-Sliema. Abela emphasized the necessity of ongoing support in this regard to combat inflation effectively. While citing recent statistics indicating a substantial increase in tourist arrivals, he stressed the importance of striving for higher quality tourism experiences. Abela underscored the need to strike a balance between quantity and quality for a sustainable tourism sector. Regarding service quality in the tourism industry, Abela emphasized the importance of clearly defining areas where skill improvements are required, particularly for foreign workers. (The Malta Independent)

Customs make major cocaine haul

Customs authorities made a seizure of approximately 30 blocks of cocaine concealed within a 40-foot container destined for Valencia on Tuesday. As part of their routine operational risk assessment at the Freeport, Customs officials detected roughly 30 kilograms of cocaine concealed within a container transporting a shipment of jumbo packs of peanuts. The container, which was en-route from Nicaragua to Valencia, was found to be carrying 30 blocks of the illicit substance amounting to around 30kg. (Maltatoday)

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