Updated – Malta News Briefing – Monday 25 September 2023

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Former Maltese Premier League player convicted of money-laundering

Sunday Eboh, a former player in the Malta Premier League, has been convicted of money laundering in connection with a romance fraud scheme and has been handed a three-year prison sentence, accompanied by a €20,000 fine. Eboh was part of a group of Nigerian individuals and a Maltese woman accused of deceiving an elderly woman by cultivating an online romance with a fictional American soldier who falsely claimed he was relocating to Malta after his deployment. The victim transferred €58,000 to this persona through a series of small transactions to local banks.

Chris Fearne tops Minister popularity list
Nearly 50% of respondents to a survey ranked Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health Chris Fearne as one of their top three best performing ministers, data obtained via Malta Survey shows. 32.3% marked Fearne as their first choice. Social Rights Minister Michael Falzon and Finance Minister Clyde Caruana ranked a distant second and third. The survey also showed that if an election were to take place tomorrow, the Nationalist Party would receive 0.4% more votes than the Labour Party, and that Robert Abela is trusted more as a leader than Bernard Grech. (The Malta Independent)

Morning Briefing

Economist forecasts COLA to reach €13

Budget 2024 is likely to bring about a COLA of nearly €13 per week, primarily due to sustained high inflation levels, despite significant government subsidies for fuel and energy. Economist Philip von Brockdorff said that the mechanism determining the cost of living adjustment currently indicates a weekly wage rise of approximately €12.70. The final adjustment will be determined once the Retail Price Index (RPI) for August is released. If confirmed, this increase will be the largest-ever Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), surpassing last year’s record of €9.90. The COLA mechanism is linked to price fluctuations between September 2022 and August 2023, as measured by the RPI. This mandatory wage hike has raised concerns among employer organizations that it may contribute to an overall increase in prices. (Maltatoday)

Chamber warns against persistent high inflation

The Chamber of Commerce has expressed concerns that persistent high inflation over the long term could erode Malta’s competitiveness. They suggest that one way to address this issue without adverse effects on the economy is by enhancing the efficiency of the public sector. These concerns arise in response to Finance Minister Clyde Caruana’s warnings that inflation is likely to remain at elevated levels indefinitely. The Chamber pointed out that the government has primarily focused on subsidising energy and some essential inputs like flour to combat inflation, with limited intervention in areas like transport costs, adjustments to the cost of living mechanism, or measures to influence interest rates that could help mitigate inflation. (The Malta Independent)

Grech says benefit scheme is wider than revealed so far

PN leader Bernard Grech has indicated that the benefit abuse scheme, in which the Labour Party allegedly exploited vulnerable individuals for political gain, extends beyond what has been disclosed thus far, although he refrained from providing specific details. During a Net TV interview, Grech expressed concern, stating, “There are numerous schemes, which I hope to address in the near future, where such abuses occur, often linked to the manipulation of votes. This is unacceptable.” He emphasized the unacceptability of individuals receiving benefits to which they are not entitled, while eligible recipients are denied them. Grech asserted that these corrupt practices were employed to secure votes for Prime Minister Robert Abela. (Times of Malta)

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