Updated – Malta News Briefing – Friday 27 October 2023

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Updated 1230

Caritas calls for measures to reduce income inequality: Caritas, in its recommendations for the 2024 Budget called for initiatives that reduce income inequality, foster a better social environment, and enhance governance. The organisation highlights research findings that demonstrate a direct link between the widening wealth gap and increased social unrest. Caritas proposed strengthening Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for vulnerable low-income groups, while implementing fairer taxation, with higher-income individuals contributing more. Caritas also presented several people-centric proposals including implementing integration programs for migrants, streamlining bureaucracy to facilitate legal employment for migrants and combating abuse and precarious work situations faced by third-country nationals. (Times of Malta)

Lawyers lament implication of judicial bias: The Chamber of Advocates expressed concern that the debate in Parliament implied potential judicial bias, favouring a particular political entity. It asserted that such insinuations can weaken the integrity of the judiciary in a nation that should be governed by the principles of the rule of law. The Chamber of Advocates emphasized the importance of upholding the separation of powers as the cornerstone of a robust democratic society. This separation ensures that the executive, legislative, and judicial branches can operate independently. Any statements that undermine this separation are a cause for concern, as per the Chamber. Furthermore, the Chamber of Advocates called on Parliament to fulfill its responsibility in preserving the trust in institutions responsible for upholding the rule of law. (TVM)

Morning Briefing

Skills card to be introduced for non-EU workers in tourism sector

From 2024, non-EU employees in the tourism sector, such as hotels, bars, and restaurants, will be required to obtain a skills card to work in Malta, as outlined in a government proposal presented to industry stakeholders. The plan, which is open for consultation for three weeks, aims to extend the mandatory skills card to Maltese and EU workers in the hospitality industry by 2025. Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo described this move as “bold” and emphasized that it would significantly enhance the quality of the workforce in the sector while incentivizing only those with genuine qualifications to relocate to Malta. Under the plan, starting in January 2024, third-country nationals applying for a visa to work in Malta’s tourism sector will need to pass an initial skills card assessment before their visa and work permit applications can be processed. Acquiring a skills card will involve costs: the mandatory training and assessment will be priced at €450, and applicants will also be required to pay an additional €125 for an in-person assessment upon their arrival in Malta. (Times of Malta)

Police officials to get pay rise in new agreement

Some 2000 members of the police corps are poised to enjoy improved wages and working conditions as a result of a recently inked agreement. The accord was formally endorsed by both government representatives and by representatives of the workers in the corps. During a visit to the Academy for Disciplinary Bodies, Prime Minister Robert Abela engaged with officers and recruits. During this visit, he underscored the significance of investing in the Police Force’s officers, emphasizing that it represents a direct investment in valuable, service-oriented workers who play a crucial role in promoting the collective welfare. (The Malta Independent)

Social security bill inches towards €1bn

The National Statistics Office has reported a significant increase in government spending on social security benefits during the first nine months of 2023, with a rise of €78.9 million compared to the previous year. The surge in expenditure reflects a growing demand for both Contributory and Non-Contributory Benefits, the NSO said. Between January and September 2023, government allocated a total of €980.4 million toward social security benefits, marking an 8.7% increase from the corresponding period in 2022. (Newsbook)

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