Malta News Briefing -Monday 28 June 2021

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Update 1445

Repubblika is proposing that political forces ‘give birth’ to a Government of National Solidarity with a pre-established mandate which will bring the country up to the June 2022 general election, a government supported by both sides of the House and which would also include a number of elected MPs as well as a number of technocrats co-opted by both sides of the House.

This interim government would still be accountable to Parliament.

It stressed that MPss from both sides of the House should voluntarily give up their seats in Parliament so that these technocrats can serve in the Cabinet of the Prime Minister chosen to head this solidarity government.

Updated 1245

Bernard Grech challenges Abela to denounce Muscat

Opposition Leader Bernard Grech challenged PM Robert Abela to denounce his predecessor Joseph Muscat in the wake of Malta’s FATF greylisting. Speaking in Parliament, Grech said that greylisting was Labour’s legacy. Grech insisted: “Denounce Joseph Muscat, admit Muscat got us into this state, kick him out of the party. Show us you are not looking for continuity. This is his legacy”, while asking Robert Abela what is holding him back. The PN is also demanding full disclosure of all all correspondence and documents from the FATF, including the action plan given to Malta by the global anti-money laundering body.

“They want us and the people to believe, that it’s business as usual now. They are not realising that for us to come out of this crisis, which they themselves got us into, we need a different way of politics”, a combative Grech added.

Responding to the points raised by Grech, finance minister Clyde Caruana assured he would not be taking the greylisting lightly.  Caruana said his main focus was working with industry to mitigate any possible negative impact and instilling hope. The finance minister said he would continue working quietly behind the scenes to take the necessary action that will see Malta taken off the grey list as soon as possible. 

Six new Covid cases

Six persons tested positive over the past 24 hours. As no patients recovered, active cases have gone upto 34. A total of 311,453 people rare now fully vaccinated.

Malta tops school leavers chart

Data published by Eurostat shows that Malta recorded the highest share of school leavers, despite tangible progress over a decade. Te highest shares were recorded in Malta (16.7%), Spain (16%), Romania (15.6%), Italy (13.1%) and Bulgaria (12.8%). In Malta, the rate of early school leavers has gone down from 23.8% in 2010 down to 16.7% in 2020.

In 2020, EU Member States that reported the lowest shares of early leavers from education and training were Croatia (2.2%), Greece (3.8%), Slovenia (4.1%), Ireland (5%) and Poland (5.4%), Eurostat said.

Early school leavers are considered those young adults, aged 18 to 24 who, despite not achieving more than a lower secondary education, were not following any formal or informal education or training.

Updated 0830

The Times reports that the head of the internal head chief at the Lands Authority slammed the board for lack of transparency and good governance. In her annual report, chief auditor Charlene Muscat said she was kept out of meetings and had documents withheld from her.

The Independent says that a number of Covid-19 restrictions relating to sport and fitness will be lifted from today. Catering establishment may also open until 2:00 am and sea transport may operate at a maximum 65 per cent capacity.

In-Nazzjon quotes PN Leader Bernard Grech that the Prime Minister is rejecting the opposition’s offer to build a national consensus on the way forward after the FATF verdict. Grech said he is ready to listen to constituted bodies about the challenge.

L-Orizzont quotes Prime Minister Robert Abela that the government is committed to turning the challenge of the FATF greylisting into opportunity. Speaking on Sunday, Abela said Malta will aim for a certificate of excellence.

The Times says that four in ten people in the 25 to 34 age group obtained a tertiary level of education, up from 26 per cent a decade ago. The rise is one of the sharpest increases in the EU and Malta is on course to reach a target of 35 per cent by 2030.

L-Orizzont speaks with Korin Farrugia from RMJ Horse Rescue who said there are tens of horses suffering maltreatment or waiting to be put down. The activist appealed to the public for funds to help rescue more animals in danger.

The Independent quotes Eurostat figures showing a 16.7 per cent rate of early school-leaving in Malta, the highest across member states. The EU average stood at 9.9 per cent last year and governments have a commitment to decreasing it to nine per cent by 2030.

In-Nazzjon reports that a motorist is in critical condition from an accident on Sunday in which he lost control of his car and collided with a private ambulance driving in the opposite direction down Tal-Barrani Road in Żejtun. 

Morning Briefing

Govt to present Recovery Plan today

Government will this morning present the recovery plan with the funds that were negotiated in July of last year at European level will be presented. In an interview on ONE Radio on Sunday morning, the Prime Minister Robert Abela recalled how last year, this Government negotiated 320 million euros, despite what he described as the many factors that were against Malta. The Prime Minister said that the recovery plan will translate into essential projects for the country and the creation of more jobs.

On the FATF grey-listing, Abela said Government has worked hard to implement the action plan agreed with Moneyval, saying that it had implemented 55 out of 58 measures. However, he added that the FATF’s decision motivates the country to prove its excellence over the next months. He said that it was not true that there is no concern for such a decision, but rather a sense of determination of getting things right for the benefit of the country. Meanwhile, Economy Minister Miriam Dalli said that the Government is not planning to change any tactics in terms for economic recovery when it comes to enterprises, as it took the Financial Advisory Task Force (FATF) assessment, among other issues, into account when drafting the recovery plan.

PN wants consultation on post grey-listing action plan

The Leader of the Opposition and the Nationalist Party, Bernard Grech, announced that he will be consulting with constituted bodies to ensure the country takes the appropriate and needed decisions to restore its reputation with foreign elements. Grech recalled that the party, together with civil society, had long warned Goverment of the risks the country was facing. Grech said that while Government attempted to tick the boxes in terms of regulatory requirements, in practice, PM Robert Abela refused to take tough decisions relating to scandals such as the Electrogas contract. “There is no quick fix. Credibility is lost quickly, and takes a long time to rebuild. You cannot have the same person who has steered you into an alleyway try to steer you back out”, he added.

Covid-19 Update

No new cases if COVID-19 were reported on Sunday, with two persons recovering. Active cases went down to 28.A total of 2,227 swab tests were administered during the previous 24 hours, the daily Health Ministry update showed.