Ċaqnu tax deal scrapped after government intervention / Malta News Briefing – Tuesday 1 February 2022

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Times of Malta says Steward Health Care has claimed its concession to run three hospitals in Malta was deemed “not fit for purpose” internationally and is therefore “of no financial value”. 

MaltaToday says that trouble is brewing for the administration of justice, after lawyers for a Paceville bouncer argued that the current practice of storing seized drugs connected to ongoing cases in court, was illegal.

Newsbook says that the body of the woman murdered in Sliema on 2 January has been released and will be flown to Poland where the funeral will take place on Saturday.

TVM says that Prime Minister Robert Abela announced that the Cabinet has approved changes to strengthen the fight against gender-based violence and so that the femicide concept is included in the country’s Criminal Code.

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Ċaqnu tax deal scrapped after government intervention: The government has thrown out a deal between the Inland Revenue Department and construction magnate Charles Polidano because of millions of euros in dues. Polidano – Iċ-Ċaqnu – has been in talks with the fiscal authorities for months in a bid to shrink a massive €40 million tax bill. In May last year, Times of Malta reported that the businessman had agreed to terms with the Inland Revenue Department to offset part of his outstanding taxes against money he is owed for public works carried out in recent years as well as land he sold to state entities. Senior government politicians intervened, and the deal was scrapped at the eleventh hour, the Times of Malta reported.

COVID-19 bank guarantee scheme extended to June: The Malta Development Bank has announced the extension of its successful Covid-19 Guarantee Scheme (CGS) until June 2022. The Bank said that in light of the observed economic recovery and unfolding Covid-19 developments, in November 2021 the Commission has adopted a limited prolongation of 6 months of the State aid Temporary Framework, until 30 June 2022. This will allow Member States, where needed, to extend their support schemes and ensure that businesses still affected by the crisis will not be cut off from necessary support. To this end, the Commission accepted the MDB’s request to extend the CGS scheme till end of June 2022.

Covid-19 update: There were 249 new cases of Covid-19 and 266 recoveries in the last 24 hours. Active cases stand at 2954 and there are 102 patients being treated at Mater Dei hospital. Five of these cases are in the ITU. During the last 24 hours, a woman aged 57 years died.

Morning Briefing

Labour insists on LN allowing Court to remove sentences from public database

Labour has voted against a motion presented by Opposition MPs that aimed to repeal a legal notice allowing the court to remove sentences from its public database. The Legal Notice in question, grants unlimited authority to the director-general of Malta’s law courts to erase court judgements from a public government website. Nationalist MP Karol Aquilina argued that “a magistrate or judge has no right to give a sentence in secret. It must be done openly. It can’t close off its courtroom and give the sentence. Although, I know of circumstances where this might have happened”.

Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis brought his defence of the legal notice after Aquilina. He said that the removal or modification of court judgements has been an ongoing process that started before he became minister. The legal notice merely formalises the procedure, he argued. Another vote by division will be taken tomorrow on the PN’s request. (Maltatoday)

Malta to get another Carnival in May

Malta will still be holding a Carnival this year – in May. Culture Minister Jose Herrea said that while Carnival will still take place as usual between February 25 and March 1 with exhibitions and plays but no parade, a second event will take place between May 20 and 22, with carnival floats returning for the first time since 2020. “As we are becoming more relaxed in our COVID-19 protocols, it seemed fit that at the end of May there will be a normal Carnival,” Herrera told Times of Malta at a news conference on Monday. (Times of Malta)

Covid-19 Update
Active Covid-19 cases went down to below 3,000 on the last day of January, with 169 new cases and 327 recoveries. Of the 2,972 persons currently infected with coronavirus, hundred are being treated in hospital, four of whom in ITU. During the last 24 hours, three persons aged between 86 and 93 died while Covid-19 positive, taking the death tally to 550.

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