UPDATE – Malta News Briefing – Sunday 16 January 2022

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UPDATE – Midday Briefing

Covid-19 Update

There were 301 new Covid-19 cases reported over the past 24 hours. The signficant reduction in the number of new cases confirms the downward trend registered over the past 7 days. Another man and woman passed-away while having the virus. The 505th and 506th victims are a 77-year-old woman and 75-year old man.

Anti-Covid measures protest

Hundreds of people on Sunday took part in the biggest protest so far in Malta against rules meant to control the spread of COVID-19. They walked from the parliament building to the palace in Valletta, protesting over regulations that come into force on Monday requiring people to produce an updated vaccination certificate, including the booster shot, to enter most venues. Times of Malta

PM Abela is fake – PN Leader

The Opposition leader said “the Prime Minister is insulting people’s intelligence” by rubbishing the PN’s anti-corruption law. In an interview on the Nationalist Party’s television station on Sunday morning, Bernard Grech said Abela was only preoccupied with retaining power but noted “I trust the people can see through it.” The PN leader said Abela was detached from reality in the two years he has been at the helm of the country, especially after describing the Opposition’s far-reaching anti-corruption draft law as an electoral ploy. Grech accused Prime Minister Robert Abela of being out-of-touch with the public, after Abela said there were no instances of bad governance during his two-year tenure.  Grech pointed to a new MaltaToday survey to back up his argument. The survey indicates that Abela suffered a four-point decline in trust ratings over the past two months, although the Prime Minister is still ahead by 21.3 points.  “I always say the same thing about surveys: they’re a snapshot of a particular period. It’s not gospel, but we shouldn’t ignore it,” he said.  The PN leader admitted his party is the underdog for the upcoming election, but noted that the survey reflects a changing opinion on Abela.  

Newsbook / MaltaToday

UPDATE – News Headlines

Motor Cyclist Accidents

Two motorcyclists were injured in separate accidents on Saturday, the police said. In the first case, a 41-year-old man from Zurrieq was seriously injured when he fell off his motorcycle in Qrendi. The accident happened at about 7pm.  The second accident took place on December 13 Road, Marsa, at 10.30pm when a motorcycle was involved in a collision with a Mazda Demio car. The 28-year-old motorcyclist, a man from Nepal, was seriously injured.  Times of Malta

Renewed Call for Missing Libyan Man

Police made a fresh call for information on the whereabouts of Alsagheer Mohamed Rajab Ali, a 29-year-old Libyan man who was reported missing on 3 December. “Unfortunately, Alsagheer Mohamed Rajab Ali has not been found yet,” the police said on Sunday. Newsbook

Local Firm eCabs registers record growth in Q4 2021

eCabs, the leading ride-hailing operator in Malta, has registered record growth in the last quarter of 2021, pursuant to the easing of Covid-19 restrictions. And a year since eCabs launched its Partner Driver Model in 2021, the platform today hosts over 1,000 drivers, and growing at a steady pace. The Dispatch

UPDATE – From the Newspapers

MaltaToday Political Survey

Robert Abela’s trust rating at 47.3% has taken a four-point hit but Bernard Grech has failed to capitalise on the Prime Minister’s woes, MaltaToday’s January survey shows.Grech’s trust rating stands at 26%, a decline of 0.5 points over last month’s findings. The gap between the leaders sees Abela ahead by 21.3 points. However, the survey shows that more people now trust none of the two major leaders. With 21.1% saying they trust neither Abela nor Grech, this is the highest it has been since September 2020. The Labour Party enjoys a 15-point lead over the Nationalist Party at the start of election year but both have seen support decline. The January MaltaToday survey puts the PL’s support at 43.5% and that of the PN at 28.6%. Support for ADPD stands at 0.9% and other political formations record 0.6%. MaltaToday

Sliema murder suspect attacked two men before killing Dembska

Abner Aquilina tried to attack two men shortly before the violent rape and murder of Paulina Dembska in Sliema, sources have told Times of Malta. The incident happened on the Balluta promenade, minutes before Aquilina headed towards Independence Gardens where he is accused of killing the Polish national, sources close to the investigations said.Police said they have solid enough evidence of this “encounter”, though the two men have not yet been identified.  Times of Malta

Eurovision Expenditure

The amount of money spent on Malta’s participation in last year’s Eurovision Song Contest has been revealed, after the introduction and executive summary of a review of expenditure carried out into Malta’s participation in the song contest was acquired through a Freedom of Information request. However, the full extent of the review, which would detail the processes used to determine that there was no wrongdoing committed with public funds – particularly given allegations surrounding the betting market – and would detail to whom money was paid, has been kept under wraps by the government. Malta Independent

Cannabis Expenditure

If cannabis is more expensive than it is on the black market, then the black market problem will not be solved, Executive Chairperson of the Authority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis, Mariella Dimech, told The Malta Independent on Sunday.

Morning Briefing

Redundant Air Malta Employees should be redeployed in the Public Sector – MEA

The Malta Employers’ Association said that the current situation at Air Malta is a result of delayed action and wrong strategic decisions, to the extent that matters have now escalated to a stage where a drastic cost-cutting exercise is the only way in which the airline can keep operating. The Association added that it is essential that when action plans are formulated these are implemented without to constant political interference.
The Association stated that transferring the redundant section of the labour force in Air Malta to the public sector should not be considered, given that the public sector is already overstaffed and such employment will add a further €15m to recurrent expenditure. This will also send a wrong message to Maltese employees that some people have special rights, where others have to queue in an unemployment line if they become redundant. At the same time, many companies are complaining of a shortage of employees, and it is likely that many Air Malta employees do have skills that are in demand in many companies in the tight labour market we are experiencing. This will lead to a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Labour wont move PN governance proposals to parliament

Labour will not be presenting the PN proposals on anti-corruption for discussion, arguing they contain financial elements.
Whip Glen Bedingfield said the bills had characteristics of a money bill that precluded him from consenting to its first reading in the House. “I would be going against the rules of the House and the Constitution,” Bedingfield told Maltatoday. According to the Whip, Article 73 of the Constitution does not allow the House to proceed on any Bill that could impose any tax, charge on revenues, or which requests that provision is made for its purposes, unless it is ‘recommended’ by a minister to the Speaker of the House. [Maltatoday]

Jason Micallef calls for Carmen Ciantar’s resignation

ONE TV chairman Jason Micallef has lambasted FMS CEO Carmen Ciantar for ’embarrassing’ the health minister by describing her request for an investigation into her salary as a ‘stunt’. Reacting to the news that Ciantar, who was recently outed as being on a yearly contract worth €163,000, Micallef said that the story embarasses the Government and Prime Minister Robert Abela. He said that the PM doesnt deserve such actions. [Newsbook]

Covid-19 Update
Health authorities reported 503 Covid-19 cases were registered, while three more patients have died. The victims are a man aged 62 and two women aged 69 and 86. 504 persons have died so far, sixteen this week alone. At present, there are 102 patients in hospital, with three of them in intensive care.
The number of recoveries totalled 1,307, bringing down the number of active cases to 10,754. [Independent]

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