Updated – Malta News Briefing – Monday 4 September 2023

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Updated 1205

Chamber rails out against power abuse and clientelism

In a strongly-worded statement, the Malta Chamber said that systematic abuses are incurring substantial costs in public funds that could otherwise be directed toward implementing systems that would eliminate the possibility of such schemes. This statement comes a day after Times of Malta revealed the involvement of former Labour MP Silvio Grixti in a significant benefit fraud operation. The Chamber of Commerce criticized politicians who have garnered negative attention and advocated for a “zero-tolerance policy” against abuse. They stressed that the prevalence of practices fostering a culture of power abuse and clientelism places a significant responsibility on the government to promptly introduce digital systems that enhance efficiency, ensure complete transparency, and promote fairness.

Geologists unhappy with windfarm proposals

The Malta Chamber of Geologists has criticized the newly launched national policy for offshore renewable energy, describing it as “narrow in scope.” They argue that the policy overlooks potential offshore geothermal energy sources, which offer a consistent and stable energy supply. Peter Gatt, the president of the chamber, expressed these concerns in response to the policy document, which focuses exclusively on offshore wind and solar energy projects. He pointed out that these sources are climate-dependent and may become less predictable due to changing climate conditions. The policy document outlines plans to establish the first floating wind or solar farms at locations situated between 12 and 25 nautical miles off the coast of the island.

23 migrants detained

On Sunday, the police conducted further inspections related to illegal immigration, resulting in the arrest of an additional 23 individuals. These inspections took place at various locations, including roads and residences in Hamrun and Santa Venera, and were conducted with the assistance of the Detention Services, according to the police. The detained individuals have been transported to the Detention Centre, where the deportation process from Malta has been initiated. Additionally, the police reported that all individuals arrested for residing in Malta illegally in recent weeks have already been deported. The police emphasized that these weekly inspections are part of a broader effort to send a “clear message in support of maintaining order and adherence to our country’s laws.”

Morning Briefing

Massive benefits fraud by ex-Labour MP revealed

Former Labour MP Silvio Grixti has been implicated in a long-running scheme aiding “hundreds” of individuals in fraudulently obtaining monthly disability benefits they were not eligible for. Evidence reviewed by the Times of Malta reveals that Grixti, a well-known family physician, provided falsified medical documents to assist people, often from Labour strongholds like Żabbar, Żejtun, and Paola, in securing monthly social benefits for severe disabilities they did not actually have. As a result of this fraud, the claimants received an average monthly payment of approximately €450 from the social security department. Some individuals involved in the scheme between 2019 and 2020 have asserted to police investigators that they were referred to Grixti by various figures, including a Labour minister, a now deceased PL MP, ministers’ aides, and even customer care officials from the Prime Minister’s office. (Times of Malta)

Legislation overseeing temping agency in pipeline – PM

Prime Minister Robert Abela has revealed that the government is actively working on legislation to oversee temping agencies in the country. Abela emphasized the government’s intention to support and reward reputable agencies while cracking down on those who exploit workers for personal gain. During an interview with Samuel Lucas, Deputy Head of News at ONE, Abela underscored that this regulatory framework, in conjunction with robust enforcement measures, aims to eliminate worker exploitation. He emphasized that the government’s primary goal is to distinguish responsible temping agencies from unscrupulous ones, as anyone could previously open such an agency without adequate oversight. (Maltatoday)

PM is disconnected from reality – Bernard Grech

Nationalist Party leader Bernard Grech said PM Robert Abela is disconnected from reality, leading to a sense of abandonment in the country. Speaking on PN’s radio station, Grech contended that Abela has lost touch with the situation and demonstrated a lack of vision or solutions for the nation. Grech further remarked that the Prime Minister has been quick to attribute blame to everyone but himself for the country’s problems. He noted that the government is now shifting responsibility onto the people, suggesting that they should clean up the mess created by the government because it appears the Prime Minister lacks the ability to address these issues.

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