Debt levels reach €9.4bn despite deficit decrease / Malta News Briefing – Friday 25 August 2023

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Debt reaches €9.4bn despite deficit decrease – NSO

By the end of July 2023, the Government’s Consolidated Fund reported a deficit of €302.4 million, the NSO said today. Compared to the same period in 2022, there was a decrease in deficit of €212.9 million. At the end of July 2023, Central Government debt stood at €9,396.2 million, an increase of €838.4 million when compared to 2022. The interest component of the public debt servicing costs totalled €119.3 million, an increase of €18.4 million when compared to the previous year.

Flu-like symptoms on the increase, medical sources say

Merely months after the global emergency status of the Covid-19 pandemic was lifted, Malta is witnessing an atypical surge in Covid-19 cases, coupled with an unparalleled prevalence of flu-like symptoms amid the summer season. Medical experts have noted that both Covid-19 and influenza instances have risen within the community during these summer months. Despite this, a significant number of individuals are refraining from Covid-19 testing. General Practitioners have noted an exceptional escalation in cases involving flu-like symptoms, specifically encompassing muscle aches and fever. During the third week of August this year, the country reported 312 active cases. 120 new cases were discovered from 1,000 tests done that week alone. (Newsbook)

Arrest warrant for Jomic Calleja expected – report
The Maltese police are reportedly in the process of requesting a European Arrest Warrant for Jomic Calleja Maatouk, who fled while appealing a five-year prison sentence, according to media reports. Authorities suspect that Calleja Maatouk and his partner, Marzia Miramar Maatouk, might have departed Malta using a private boat to avoid legal action. Although both received effective prison sentences last month in separate cases, they were not incarcerated due to their ongoing appeals. In adherence to Maltese law, magistrates’ prison sentences can be postponed until a final appeal decision is reached, leading to Calleja Maatouk’s release from police custody. (Maltatoday)

Morning Briefing

Waterpolo official suspended for two years after making threats to doping official

A waterpolo official has been banned from aquatic sports activities for two years after making threats to an anti-doping official, stating he would report the official to the sports minister and facilitate his superior’s transfer. Rainer Scerri, associated with Neptunes water polo club and a Labour activist, was also fined €100 by the Aquatic Sports Association (ASA) due to his repeat offense. While Scerri initially faced a five-year suspension from ASA activities, two years of the penalty will be immediately enforced, with the remaining three years held in abeyance. Disciplinary commissioner Adrian Camilleri deemed the official’s behaviour “wholly inappropriate.” (Times of Malta)

Three major applications for Ħandaq development

Three planning applications to construct warehouses and workshops on over 23,000 square meters of Qormi farmland in Tal-Ħandaq have been submitted. These proposals align with the local plans sanctioned in 2006. The most substantial application, spanning more than 15,500 square meters, was filed by Michael Stivala, the President of the Malta Developers Association. The other applications are from Colinrose Ltd, led by Ray Formosa, and Ciantar C&F Limited, managed by Darren Ciantar. Stivala also provided photomontages, including aerial perspectives of the proposed industrial development, and received approval from the Planning Authority’s advisory committee for design matters. (Maltatoday)

PN asks for NAO investigation into film rebate

The Opposition has formally requested a probe by the National Audit Office into the financial handouts given to blockbuster films to help fund their foreign crew and recoup expenses made in hiring of equipment. Figures published on the European Commission’s State aid website show that between 2019 and August 2023 the Malta Film Commission granted, or has committed to give, over €142 million to film and TV series productions shot in Malta. Reports indicate that€136,793,533 in taxpayers’ money being handed out to companies registered abroad. (Newsbook)

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