Updated – Malta News Briefing – Monday 20 November 2023

antique cannon on the defensive wall aimed at grand harbor on malta
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Passport sales allegations discredited by parliamentary body

Passport sales allegations discredited by parliamentary body, finding “differences between what shows in the whole program and what appears in snippets, as well as discrepancies between what was said and what was claimed to have been said”. A report presented in parliament this week by the PCAC stated that no evidence was found to substantiate any wrongdoing by passport agent Jean-Philippe Chetcuti, as suggested by a French TV programme. Chetcuti’s company faced the temporary suspension of its IIP agent licence in 2019 after the French programme implied Chetcuti had boasted about connections with cabinet members Owen Bonnici and Julia Farrugia Portelli, suggesting these connections could influence applications from affluent passport buyers. These claims were dismissed after a full review of the footage obtained from the producers of the program and the Commission concluded that the claims were fabricated.

PM says Maltese getting tax refunds while Europeans paying higher taxes: Prime Minister Robert Abela commended his administration’s expansive 2024 Budget, highlighting how the Maltese populace was benefiting from increased government payments and tax refunds, contrasting this with rising taxes and higher fuel costs in other European countries. At a Labour rally in Naxxar, Abela He drew comparisons between Malta’s situation and the challenges faced by various European economies. The PM highlighted Malta’s growth forecasts, which significantly surpass the European average. Projections indicate a 4% economic growth in Malta for 2024, four times higher than the EU average.

PN is party to protect Gozo identity – Grech: Opposition and PN Leader Dr Bernard Grech expressed the Nationalist Party’s dedication to safeguarding Gozo’s identity while also investing in propelling the island forward. Speaking at a political event in Xagħra, Dr Grech highlighted the party’s economic vision, presenting it as a solution to present challenges, promising transformative changes in residents’ lives. He said that the Nationalist Party sought to protect the Gozitan identity, to give every Gozitan citizen the dignity and the voice to keep moving forward and said that Gozo was not an experiment or a project which belonged to four developers, but belonged to all the families who want Gozo to be excellent.

Morning Briefing

Lifelong learning strategy launched
A new lifelong learning strategy spanning from 2023 to 2030 has been launched, featuring 50 actions and 16 measures organised around three core pillars. These initiatives aim to enhance and facilitate learning experiences across all stages of life. Mandy Mifsud, from the Education Through Life section, highlighted during the launch that the strategy extends existing measures and introduces new ones. Its primary focus is on protecting the wellbeing of vulnerable individuals and those susceptible to poverty and social exclusion. The strategy aims to achieve a 57.6% participation rate in lifelong education programs among individuals aged 25 to 64, offering formal and informal learning opportunities within communities. The strategy also aims to reduce the percentage of individuals in the 20 to 64 age group at risk of poverty by 3.1% by 2030. (TVM)

EU prosecutor probing corruption in flyover project

A European prosecutor has claimed jurisdiction over a corruption probe into the Marsa flyover project. Retired judge Lawrence Quintano, chairing the Permanent Commission Against Corruption (PCAC), informed the Justice Minister in a letter from November 2022 that the PCAC is no longer handling the investigation. These details, disclosed in parliament this week following a query by PN MP Karol Aquilina, reveal that Quintano mentioned the European Public Prosecutor’s Office invoking its authority to take charge of the probe into the EU-funded flyover project. This action, Quintano stated, abruptly halted the PCAC’s initial inquiry. (Times of Malta)

Man and woman arrested after EUR300k cocaine bust

Police apprehended a man and a woman in the act of a cocaine transaction valued at over €300,000, seizing 5kg of the drug. The 59-year-old man and 24-year-old woman were arrested in Kalkara after officers intercepted their vehicle. Investigators had tracked the car throughout the day and upon its arrival in Kalkara, they surrounded the male suspect’s car, discovering the cocaine. Simultaneously, a woman in a separate vehicle, believed to be connected to the intended deal, was also arrested at the scene.

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