HSBC Malta reports increased profits / Malta News Briefing – Monday 2 August 2021

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Latest Update- News Portal Briefing

Times of Malta reports that Edward Zammit Lewis on Monday said he was following the party line in a January 2019 Labour press conference mocking attempts to seek justice in the 17 Black case. 

MaltaToday reports that thete Monica Vella is charged with VAT offences after tax authorities flag discrepancies between stated income from work she appears to have carried out beyond her duties as magistrate

Newsbook reports that a witness refused to testify against Yorgen Fenech, fearing that she could incriminate herself in light of separate proceedings against her.

TVM reports that a 38-year-old father from Qormi was placed on probation for three years after admitting to sending four out of seven of his children to steal toys from a shop in San Ġwann last Sunday.

Updated 1233 – Mid-Day Update

HSBC reports profit increase as insurance portfolio registers strong performance

HSBC Bank Malta has seen its profit in the first six months of 2021 increase by €15.6m to €17.5m due to the positive performance reported by the life insurance subsidiary. In a report issued today, the Bank said that a satisfactory financial performance in the first half of the year reflected favourable market movements which impacted the life insurance subsidiary and lower expected credit losses booked in relation to the bank’s lending portfolio. The

Underlying business performance continues to be adversely impacted by lower and negative interest rates and reduced demand for corporate borrowing, credit card utilisation and personal loans arising from customer behaviour directly influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic. Operating expenses increased marginally, principally due to increased regulatory fees as a result of higher customer deposits held at year end 2020. The company will not be handing out any dividends to its shareholders.

Covid-19 Update

Active coronavirus cases declined steadily over the weekend and on Monday. This afternoon, the daily health update indicated 64 new cases with 168 recoveries, meaning there are now 1,609 persons infected with Covid-19. 2,762 swab tests were carried out on Sunday, with the average age of persons returning a positive result standing at 34.

Updated 1102 – Registered unemployed decrease in June

In June, the number of persons registering for work stood at 1,711, decreasing by 2,559 when compared to the corresponding month in 2020, the NSO reported this morning. Data provided by Jobsplus for June 2021 indicate a year-on-year decrease of 2,359 persons registering under Part I, and an additional drop of 200 persons registering under Part II of the unemployment register. Registered unemployment levels decreased across all age groups. The largest share of males and females on the unemployment register sought occupations as Clerical support workers, with 23.2 per cent and 41.3 per cent respectively.

Updated 0828 – Newspaper Review

The Times reveals that tax authorities have handed over data about 20 Maltese individuals with offshore companies in Dubai to the police financial crime unit. Last month, the Commissioner for Revenue requested information obtained by Germany.

L-Orizzont quotes Prime Minister Robert Abela that the government is committed to implementing the recommendations outlined in the Caruana Galizia public inquiry report. He said his administration will meet this challenge responsibly.

In-Nazzjon says that the Opposition will request an urgent debate in parliament to present a no-confidence motion in Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis. PN leader Bernard Grech said that the minister carries responsibility for creating an environment of impunity.

The Independent says that the family of Brigadier Alfred Gatt is appealing to the public to help find a Military Cross awarded to the late Gallipoli war veteran. The high-level medal has been lost on its way to the National War Museum.

The Times says that more than €12 million are estimated to have been wiped off the tourism sector as a result of holiday cancellations. Air Malta said that some 15,000 passengers withdrew their bookings after the introduction of new travel rules in July.

L-Orizzont reports the death of a 39-year-old man from Las Vegas after battling the Covid-19 virus. In a call with his partner from his ICU bed, the patient expressed regret that he had turned down his chance to get the vaccine.

In-Nazzjon says that television presenter Mark Laurence Zammit has stepped down from his popular discussion programme citing interference from the national broadcaster. In a social media post, Zammit said the impositions went against his journalistic principles.

The Independent says that Infrastructure Malta relies on the advice of expert arborists to plant new trees in areas where mature ones are uprooted to make way for road projects. The agency says it plants 28 new trees for every one removed.

Morning Briefing

Opposition asks for urgent Parliamentary session after Zammit Lewis revelations

The PN has requested speaker Anglu Farrugia to hold an urgent parliamentary sitting to be able to file a motion of no confidence against Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis after reports of chats between him and Yorgen Fenech. Exchanges revealed in the press over the past days showed that Zammit Lewis was regularly in contact with alleged murder mastermind Yorgen Fenech in 2019, soon after he addressed a press conference about attempts to get police to investigate Fenech’s exposed company 17 Black. “Labour had to show if it really sought the national interest by joining the PN in the process to clean up Malta’s name”, the party said in a statement.

In their exchanges, Zammit Lewis mocked then Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil after the latter had addressed a press conference demanding justice after Yorgen Fenech was outed as the owner of 17 Black. Meanwhile, ADPD also demanded Zammit Lewis’ resignation, saying that: tThe investigation and prosecution of crimes committed by Yorgen Fenech cannot be tainted by any conflict, whether actual or potential. Today’s revelations of Edward Zammit Lewis’ continued support to Yorgen Fenech as facts were emerging of Fenech’s involvement in 17 Black make Zammit Lewis’ position as Justice Minister untenable”.

From his end, the Justice Minister, in comments to the press said that “I have always worked in the best interest of the people and my work over the past years has always been proof of that.”

Leaders auspicate better protection of journalists

Following the publication of the inquiry into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, the government’s next steps will be to keep working on a robust programme of reforms and have a serious discussion on the future of journalism in Malta, PM Robert Abela said on Sunday. Speaking on Labour’s radio, Abela said that Government was “ approaching this challenge with a sense of responsibility and national unity. This doesn’t mean that we’re going to agree about everything but we must develop our thoughts and debate each other respectfully.

PN leader Bernard Grech said that journalists should be able to break news stories how and when they want. “We want to see journalism given the respect and dignity deserved because it’s an essential party of modern democracy,” he said. The PN Leader said the Government should not continue to hinder the media or use public money to control or manipulate it. Dr Grech called for full freedom for those who want to investigate and provide news to be able to do so at all times, saying the people had a right to all the truth.

Covid-19 Update

80 new coronavirus cases were reported on Sunday. Currently there are 32 coronavirus patients in Mater Dei hospital, five of whom are in intensive care, and increase of two from the previous day. The number of patients in ITU increased by three. 214 individuals have recovered and the number of active cases stood at 1,713.

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