Deficit widens to €753.2 million by end of August / Malta News Briefing – Friday 24 September 2021

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Updated 1240 – Mid-Day Briefing

Covid-19 Update

13 new cases of coronavirus were reported on Friday, with 29 persons recovering, reducing the active case toll to 471. During the past 24 hours, Covid took the life of another victim, a 94-year-old female. The death toll has now reached 457. 15 patients remain in hospital, four of whom in ITU.

Deficit widens to €753.2 million by end of August

By the end of August 2021, Government’s deficit has widened to €753.2 million, particularly after a staggering increase in expenditure.

In the first eight months of 2021, Recurrent Revenue amounted to €3,221.5 million, 27.6 per cent higher than the
€2,524.8 million reported a year earlier. On the other hand, total expenditure stood at €3,974.7 million, 10.1 per cent higher than the previous year. During the reference period, Recurrent Expenditure totalled €3,474.3 million, a rise of €509.2 million in comparison to the €2,965.1 million reported by the end of August 2020.

The NSO in a release said that of this 509 million increase, 257 million is to be attributed to the Pandemic assistance
scheme (€257.4 million), which includes the COVID-19 Business Assistance Programme. Other increases under
Programmes and Initiatives were reported under Hospital concession agreements (€41.3 million), EU own
resources (€26.5 million), Social security benefits (€19.3 million), Church schools (€16.9 million), St Vincent de
Paul Residence service contract (€14.1 million), Waiting lists for medical services (outsourcing) (€10.7 million),
Economic regeneration voucher scheme (€9.6 million), Extension of school transport network (€8.6 million),
Residential care in private homes (€3.9 million), Child care for all (€2.3 million) and Students’ maintenance
grants (€1.6 million).

Another significant contributor to this increase was related to salaries paid by Government for public service workers, which has risen by €68.8 million.

80 classes without a teacher yet – MUT: Around 80 Government school classrooms have not yet had a teacher assigned to them, despite the new scholastic year being a few days away. The MUT said that as a last-gasp solution, the Education Ministry was planning to move peripatetic, complementary and services teachers to the classes. “The MUT is highly concerned that, should the ministry proceed with its plans to deploy a considerable number of these teachers to take primary classes, the peripatetic, complementary and services in the primary will be highly diluted.”

According to the MUT, this would push creative subjects to the side and affect students, who would end up with insufficient tuition in a considerable number of subjects. “To this effect, the MUT has declared a trade dispute with the ministry and is issuing directives to affected members,” the MUT said.

Updated 0850 – Newspaper Review

The Times says that the union of teachers filed a trade dispute with the education ministry after non-classroom teachers have been transferred to classrooms due to a shortage of teachers. About 80 classrooms in primary schools remain without an assigned teacher.

In-Nazzjon says that the education ministry has ordered peripatetic teachers teaching sciences, arts, physical education, and other subjects to take up a classroom instead from this scholastic year. The union of teachers is objecting to the decision.

The Independent speaks to an Ambjent Malta officer who expressed scepticism about an afforestation project proposed for the Indawar Park. The officer said the plans do not sufficiently consider the native habitat of the area.

L-Orizzont reports on a meeting between the Prime Minister and a delegation from the General Workers’ Union ahead of the Budget. Union secretary-general Josef Bugeja said that social dialogue is one of the strongest instruments for change.

The Times asks PN Leader Bernard Grech about a group of Adrian Delia’s supporters showing up at the party’s Independence Day mass meeting in t-shirts from the former leader’s election campaign. Grech said the party is one and the move is unacceptable.

The Independent reports that active Covid-19 cases fell to under 500 for the first time since mid-July. There are currently 15 patients hospitalised at Mater Dei while four remain in intensive care.

L-Orizzont says that a man accused of predation was jailed for eight years after blackmailing a woman and forcing her to perform sexual favours. The court declared that the man’s obsession made the victim into a slave.

In-Nazzjon covers a series of proposals for oncology care announced by PN Leader Bernard Grech.

Morning Briefing

PM condemns Delia threats

The Prime Minister through his spokesperson condemened threats towards blogger Manuel Delia who has earlier this week announced that he would be leaving the country to ensure his and his family’s safety. PM Abela “not only condemns any form of threats but is also actively working and consulting on changes that will give more protection to journalists”, the spokesperson said.
It is understood that Abela asked the police commissioner “to ensure that the necessary measures relative to Mr Delia and his family’s safety are taken”.
“The Office of the Prime Minister was informed that the Malta Police was already in contact with Mr Delia and that necessary investigations and actions had already been initiated prior to the most recent assertions.”

UoM to offer both physical and remote classes
University students will be returning to their classrooms on Monday 27 September as the academic year 2021-22 commences, the University of Malta confirmed in a statement. New students will enjoy the traditional Freshers’ Week organised by KSU on the quadrangle with lectures then starting on Monday 11 October. An opening ceremony to herald the new academic year will be held on Monday 4 October. The University however said that some Faculties having hundreds of students enrolled in their programmes of study, will have to work with the P-R mode (Physical-Remote) which will allow large classes to be split into manageable sub-groups so that in a given week, a group will attend lectures on campus while the rest will follow proceedings remotely.

Covid-19 Update: There were 12 new cases and 47 new recoveries on Thursday. 15 patients are =currently being treated in Mater Dei, 4 of whom are in the ITU. Active cases have dropped to 488.

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