Latest Headline Update – Malta News Briefing – Sunday 20 December

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Covid19 Update – Malta registered 93 new coronavirus cases overnight. 97 individuals have recovered. 3 more deaths have been reported earlier today, with the death toll reaching 190.

Vaccine to arrive in Malta on 26th December – Prime Minister Robert Abela announced that the Pfizer vaccine, which is slated for authorization this week, is expected to arrive in Malta on Boxing Day next Saturday.  Inoculation will start on December 27, with healthcare workers and elderly home residents among the first to receive the vaccine. – MaltaToday

Daphne Caruana Galizia’s Public Inquiry – Prime Minister Robert Abela on Sunday said he is looking forward to receiving a public inquiry’s final report into the State’s role in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, saying he had nothing to fear.    Speaking during a political gathering in Xewkija, Gozo, Abela said the 2017 murder of the journalist had inflicted deep wounds on the country, which he wanted to see healed as soon as possible.   Abela said that he had nothing to fear from the inquiry, which is tasked with looking into whether the State had directly or indirectly failed to prevent Caruana Galizia’s death. Times of Malta

Calls for resignation of Rosianne Cutajar – PN Leader Bernard Grech is calling on the Prime Minister to hold Rosianne Cutajar politically responsible for her business involvement with Yorgen Fenech, which saw her accepting a €50,000 cash payment for helping broker a property transaction.  “The Prime Minister has a responsibility to call on Rosianne, evaluate what her position was in the transaction, and ask her to take responsibility,” he said.

Covid-19 Update – The Health Ministry has confirmed that three more people have died while positive for COVID-19. The first case was an 86-year-old woman, who tested positive on December 8, died yesterday at Mater Dei Hospital. The second victim was a 69-year-old man who tested positive on December 1. He died yesterday at the Good Samaritan Long-Term Care Facility. In the last case, an 87-year-old woman tested positive on December 15, and died yesterday at Mater Dei Hospital. – MaltaToday

Teen seriously injured after four storey fall in ex Jerma site – Police have opened an investigation after an 18-year-old was found seriously injured inside an abandoned hotel building in Marsascala, in what he says was a four-storey fall.   The man, who is Dutch, was discovered by passers-by who heard his cries for help at the site on Triq is-Salini, which used to host the Jerma Palace Hotel, at around 11pm.  Civil Protection Department members were called to the site to help rescue the man, who was then taken to Mater Dei Hospital by ambulance.  Doctors have certified the victim’s injuries as being serious in nature. Magistrate Marseann Farrugia is leading an inquiry into the incident. Times of Malta

Newspaper Headlines – Malta Today says that Yorgen Fenech signed a promise-of-sale for a property in Mdina last year with a fiduciary company run by Pierre Lofaro, the husband of a public inquiry panel member. Lofaro quit the company a month after the inquiry board was formed.

The Sunday Times reveals that a property seller who signed a promise-of-sale with Yorgen Fenech is chasing Parliamentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar to return a €50,000 broker’s fee she was paid after the deal fell through late last year.

The Independent on Sunday speaks to Energy Minister Miriam Dalli who said that if investigations into the Electrogas deal show that there was wrongdoing, those responsible should face consequences.

Illum says that the government is expected to take ‘drastic measures’ to avoid having to shut down Air Malta. The paper says that the dire financial situation of the national carrier took a further blow with the pandemic.

It-Torċa carries an interview with Finance Minister Clyde Caruana who said that the future of Malta’s economic growth depends on productivity and high-value workers. Caruana revealed that consultation on a new employment policy will begin in January.

Kullħadd quotes a Eurostat report which shows that Malta reached the wealth per capita EU average in 2019, rising by 13 percent since 2013 and 17 percent since 2004. The paper says Malta’s economic performance rose to among the best 10 in Europe.

Il-Mument reports on the Christmas message by PN Leader Bernard Grech who said that different political views are crucial to moving the country forward. But different pollical colours, said Grech, do not mean that we cannot live together as one nation.

The Sunday Times publishes a 2008 letter by former Social Policy Minister John Dalli to then Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, offering to speak to Paul Apap Bologna about an LNG power station project similar to what later would become Electrogas.

The Independent on Sunday says that ten MPs who pulled a combined 24 percent of first-preference votes in the last election will not contest another election. Another three veteran MPs are also rumoured to be reconsidering contesting again.

Illum speaks to Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis about the European Court of Justice report this week that found no conflict between Malta system of judicial appointments and EU law. The Minister said the opinion is important, but the sentence is not out yet.

Il-Mument speaks to the Nationalist Party’s outreach chief, Ivan J. Bartolo, and political research president, Martina Caruana, who announced a new consultation exercise with organisations that will inform the PN’s political strategy.

Morning Briefing

Drugs, cars, gold, cash: Police’s mega-haul on Saturday

Two men spent Saturday evening in custody after a number of searches saw the police make a sgnificantly haul of drugs, cars, gold and cash with a total value of nearly €800,000.

Police said a 40-year old Ħamrun resident and a 29-year old from Paola were arrested during an operation that followed weeks of observation by anti-drug squad officers as well as the Special Intervention Unit and Rapid Intervention Unit.

The men are expected to be charged of drug possession and money laundering in Court today.

Hospital staff the first to be vaccinated

Hospital healthcare staff will be the first to get the COVID-19 vaccine arrives in Malta at the end of the month, health authorities said, The vaccine will be administered on a staggered basis so that if any side effects occur, hospitals and elderly homes will not temporarily lose any key workers.

“The first batch of vaccines will be staggered among health care staff, but by the fourth day we will be vaccinating those residing and working in elderly homes,” according to Health Superintendent of Public Health Charmaine Gauci. She added Malta’s vaccine plan would ensure no added burden would be placed on workers but she stressed that the side effects were not very strong. The country is expecting to start COVID-19 vaccinations from December 27.

Four persons died of Covid-19 in the previous 24 hours, according to data released by Malta’s Ministry of Health. The daily bulletin indicated that Malta has also retained its relatively low number of new cases, with 52 being registered, taking Malta’s death tally to 187.

Business gets Malta Enterprise support throughout December

Throughout December, Malta Enterprise is giving some 40 million euro in assistance to thousands of businesses hit by the effects of the pandemic, including wage supplements to workers and refunds on electricity bills. Minister Miriam Dalli announced that because of the festive season, the Government will be issuing the wage supplements earlier, adding that January will see the payment of rent refunds and the 100 euro vouchers.
Some 5,000 companies which between them employ over 25,800 workers have started receiving about six million euro in refunds on their electricity bills.
Malta Enterprise Chief Executive Kurt Farrugia stated that this scheme had attracted a total of 3,280 applications from companies and 1,860 from self-employed, who employ some 24,400 workers in Malta and about 1,400 in Gozo.

UHM warns of industrial action by port workers

UĦM Voice of the Workers has warned of industrial action that could halt the loading and unloading of goods at the Grand Harbour.
Its CEO, Josef Vella, said an agreement had been reached with the Transport Ministry to raise the tariffs paid to the foremen of stevedores.
However, the matter has been stalled at the Prime Minister’s Office since before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country.

“We already have directives in place but if we get nowhere, we’ll have to escalate and this could badly affect imports and even exports,” Vella said.

CDE News

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