Malta News Briefing – 8 March 2021

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Latest update- News Portal Briefing

Times of Malta reports that Prime Minister Robert Abela has stood by Johann Buttigieg after allegations he had business with Yorgen Fenech

MaltaToday reports that over 500 were fined last week over COVID-19 breaches

Newsbook reports that James Caterers’ owner and namesake James Barbara may face criminal proceedings after threatening legal action against the Auditor General, after Speaker Anġlu Farrugia found him prima facie guilty of a breach of parliamentary privilege on Monday.

TVM reports that a 23-year-old woman from Għargħur is in danger of dying after she was involved in a traffic accident, in the limits of Zejtun and Għaxaq

Updated 1245 – Covid-19 Update

201 new cases of coronavirus were reported on Monday, with 345 recoveries, lowering the active cases to 3,178. These cases were identified through just under 4,000 swab tests carried out on Sunday. No new fatalities were recorded. The total number of vaccination doses given has reached 97,864.

Malta trails EU countries in gender equality at work

Malta is trailing significantly other European countries when it comes to gender equality within the workforce, according to recent data released by Eurostat. Malta recorded the lowest number of women working in knowledge-based high-tech services within the EU in 2019 and ranked fourth from bottom when it came to women occupying managerial positions in the last quarter of 2020.

In the continent, while women accounted for less than half of all employed people (46 per cent), they outnumbered men when it came to employment in knowledge-intensive services (59 per cent) in 2019. Baltic states Lithuania and Latvia boast the highest representation of women (67 per cent) in high-tech, high-skilled industries.

Updated 0820 – Newspaper Review

The Independent speaks with Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo who said that the government is making plans for summer for the tourism sector based on the national strategy to achieve herd immunity.  

The Times reports that former gaming authority CEO Heathcliff Farrugia is facing charges over influence trading with businessman Yorgen Fenech. The police discovered extensive communication between the two men regarding the gambling sector.

In-Nazzjon quotes PN Leader Bernard Grech who said that, when women succeed, everyone succeeds. He was addressing a conference by the party discussing equality to mark the International Day of Women.

L-Orizzont speaks with Minister for Research and Innovation Owen Bonnici who said that the government is making plans for “a better version” of Malta once the country emerges from the pandemic, rooted in social justice, sustainability, and economic resilience.

The Independent reveals plans to develop a disused explosives factory on the outskirts of Dingli into a high-end tourism spa. Original plans met criticism in 2017 but the environment watchdog said it does not have objections to the amended proposals.

The Times says that dozens of non-EU students whose families reside in Malta are being threatened with ejection from school due to delays in application processing by Identity Malta. Some families are being asked to pay education bills running into thousands of euros.

L-Orizzont quotes Prime Minister Robert Abela who announced that the government is in the final stages of launching a reform of laws regulating leases of agricultural land. Abela said that the agricultural sector needs to be protected.

In-Nazzjon says that PN Leader Bernard Grech continued to close the gap with counterpart Robert Abela on public approval. The paper quotes a survey by Malta Today setting approval ratings for the PL and PN leaders at 39.8 percent and 34.8 percent, respectively.

Morning Briefing

Protecting society was our priority – PM

Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Sunday that throughout the pandemic. Government had prioritised the health and care of workers and employers. While admitting that there were moments were “we could have done better”, he recalled that this pandemic came with no warnings or guidelines.

Abela thanked frontliners for their contribution throughout this year since the first cases cropped up: “They faced so many difficulties, they are human and we cannot forget that… we are all flesh and blood.”

Speaking in Mosta, the Prime Minister also sought to justify his performance during Thursday’s press conference, during which he announced new restrictive measures: I announced the new measures this week I was emotional, I felt for all the restaurant owners who can now only provide a take-away service. I feel for the people, I understand the difficulties people have felt these past 12 months,” he said.

He also highlighted the effective implementation of the vaccination process, remarking that Malta was leading the way in Europe, promising to commit all possible resources to ensure this remained so.

PN supports gender corrective mechanism

Nationalist Party Leader Bernard Grech said women are capable of succeeding in politics on their own, but the gender corrective mechanism will help to make up for the disadvantages they face, Opposition leader Bernard Grech has said. “Women have succeeded in other sectors – law, medicine, judiciary, business. But why did they not do make it to parliament? So let us remove the obstacles they are facing,” Grech said.

PN MP Claudette Buttigieg echoed this sentiment, and compared the debate surrounding the mechanism to the divorce one. “If you feel you shouldn’t be elected through a mechanism, do not use it. But it is easy to say that I was able to get elected, so let us leave at that. The reality is women are not succeeding as much as men,” she said. She insisted that the mechanism will not elect women who have not worked hard for their votes.

Former MGA CEO charged with Fenech ties reveals that former gaming authority CEO Heathcliff Farrugia is facing criminal charges following an investigation into trading in influence with Yorgen Fenech. It is understood that Farrugia was charged earlier this year, with the portal indicating that the investigation and court action against the former gaming regulator were kept under wraps in view of the damage that it could do to Malta’s gaming industry.

Farrugia was questioned by police over his communication with Fenech, who is allegedly involved in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia and former CEO of Portomaso Casino.

Covid-19 Update

182 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Sunday, the Health Ministry has announced.

Active cases stand at 3,322, while another five people passed away.

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