Malta-24 News Briefing – Tuesday 20 October 2020

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Update 1745- News Portal Briefing

Illum reports that Health Minister Chris Fearne said a Covid-19 vaccine should be administered to the entire country six months after it is issued.

Times of Malta reports that a 47-year-old woman was seriously injured early on Tuesday afternoon when she was hit and dragged by a car which then kept on going.

MaltaToday reports that Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne says government will be contesting the infringement procedure brought forward by the European Commission on Malta’s IIP scheme.

Newsbook reports that the youngest patient at the ITU who tested positive for Covid-19 is 46 years of age while the oldest patient is aged 76. 

TVM says that Bank of Valletta would like to advise its customers that with effect from Wednesday 21st October, it will be reopening its Gżira and Marsa Branches.

Update 1240 – Covid-19 Update

Malta registered 134 cases in the past 24 hours, as Malta’s daily tally continues to hit triple digits. It also registered 40 recoveries.

The country’s total active cases now stand at 1543.

Updated 1010 – Malta reports 46th Covid-death

A 72-year-old woman died from COVID-19 on Tuesday. She is Malta’s 46th victim.

The Health Ministry said the woman was admitted to Mater Dei Hospital today week and was confirmed positive with the virus two days later. She was kept in hospital, where she died on Tuesday.

She had underlying health conditions, the ministry added.

Updated 0844 – Newspaper Review

The Times says that the European Commission will start infringement procedures against Malta and Cyprus over their respective cash for passports schemes. EC Vice-President Marcos Sefcovic said the Commission has raised concerns multiple times with both countries.

In-Nazzjon says that the European Commission repeatedly warned Malta and Cyprus that golden passport schemes can be abused by criminals seeking access to the EU. Cyprus recently suspended its programme after scandals broke out.

Malta Today covers social measures announced in the budget on Monday, including a raise in pensions and higher children’s allowance. The paper says that Prime Minister Abela’s first budget is a reaction to the economic fallout from the pandemic.

The Independent reports that imports of single-use plastics will be banned from January, one of the 2021 budget measures. The paper says Monday’s budget will guide the country through the Covid-19 situation.

L-Orizzont follows the Budget speechand highlights a cost of living adjustment of €1.75 and the extension of the Covid-19 wage supplement until March. The Finance Minister announced compensation for former dock workers who suffered health problems from asbestos.

In-Nazzjon quotes Opposition Leader Bernard Grech in his first reaction to the 2021 Budget. Grech said that the measures announced by the Finance Minister do not look ahead and that the country expected an extraordinary Budget for extraordinary times.

The Times quotes Finance Minister Edward Scicluna who said that the 2021 Budget unveiled on Monday reassures people about their futures. The paper says that the Budget is an ‘extension’ of the mini-budget announced earlier this year.

L-Orizzont speaks with General Workers Union secretary general Josef Bugeja who said the 2021 Budget checked all boxes. Bugeja said the Budget demonstrates the ‘social core’ of the government.  

In-Nazzjon publishes a statement by the PN which says the Budget shows signs of a ‘tired’ government that keeps recycling measures from one year to the next. The party said the Budget offers no economic vision.

Morning Briefing

Government announces budget for 2021

Government has announced the budget for 2021, with the theme “Strongly Moving Forward” seeking to send out a message of positivity to spur on Malta’s economic regeneration in the coming years. Among the widely-anticipated measures, Government said that a new round of vouchers will be distributed to all population, while the wage guarantee has been extended until March 2021 without providing indications on whether other sectors of the economy.

The Budget includes a total expenditure of over €5,700 million. In its economic analysis, Government is anticipating a drop in 7.4% in the GDP, rebounding by 6.4% in nominal terms in 2021.

The Cost of Living Adjustment, known as COLA, will be €1.75 per week, reflecting the low inflation rate experienced over the past 12 months. Scicluna said that the increase will be given to all employees, pensioners and people on social benefits. Students will also see the COLA increase reflected in their stipends.

The government will also be giving another tax refund allocation. This time round, the refund will be between €45 and €95. Upwards of 218,000 people will benefit from this measure, which will cost €16 million.

Government is estimating that GDP will contract by 7.4% in real terms this year before rebounding to 5% in 2021. 

Malta’s debt ratio is expected to be at 58.1% next year, and despite increases, will remain below 60% until 2023. This year, Malta’s deficit will shoot up to 9.4%, before being lowered to 5.9% in 2021. This flexibility was allowed by the European Commission which suspended its fiscal requirements for 2020 and 2021, giving national Governments more room for manouvre.

Government said that while supporting existing economic sectors, this budget will serve as a push to attract new economic niches, including in the fields of Virtual  Reality, Augmented Reality, AI, Immersive  Technology,  3d  printing,  Quantum  and  High Performance Computing. 

Moneyval assessment expected by mid-2021

The outcome of Moneyval’s evaluation of Malta is expected to be known in the first half of 2021, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said.

Earlier this month, Malta submitted its final progress report to Moneyval experts, in a bid to avoid being placed on a grey-list.

Covid Update

Health authorities reported 109 new cases of coronavirus in Malta in the past 24 hours, the sixth consecutive three-digit daily increase. With just six persons recovering during the same timeframe, Malta now counts 1,450 active cases.

CDE News

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