Update – Malta News Briefing – Sunday 26 September 2021

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Update 1230 – Coronavirus Update

13 new Covid-19 cases have been registered by the health authorities. 35 have made a recovery. This brings the number of active cases to 421. 18 are receiving treatment in hospital, with 4 in intensive care. Newsbook

Update 1215 – Teachers Union lambast Government on back to school preparations

Up to 150 primary classes have been left without a teacher, the Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) said on Sunday, in what it describes as “one of the messiest exercises carried out in the last decade”. The MUT stated that teachers providing essential supplementary services in schools, such as literacy support and complementary teaching, will instead be transferred to a primary class as from Monday. Having been notified of the change on the eve of the scholastic year, these teachers will not be able to continue supporting students in their designated roles. “The MUT is following these deployment cases and is protesting with the Ministry about this unprecedented deployment exercise. The union has already declared a trade dispute with the Ministry earlier this week and is issuing directives to affected teachers,” it said. – MaltaToday

Update 1145 Political Debate

Climate change poses an opportunity as well as a challenge for Malta, Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Sunday, adding that Malta is ready to be a global leader in decarbonisation and digitalisation. MaltaToday reports that Abela’s interview on ONE radio, where he referred to his address at the United Nations General Assembly debate last week. He said that climate change poses a major challenge, and Malta can help relay the message of small island states that are most likely to be impacted by it. “Small countries like us face challenges on our critical infrastructure,” he warned. “But we need to see all this as an opportunity.” He emphasised that Malta is not a mere observer at the international level, and takes an active role with regards to Libya and the surrounding region, putting its challenges and concerns on the international agenda. MaltaToday This week, he said, the EU’s S&D Group will be in Malta before important EU sessions. “This shows the recognition of the reforms we have and will continue to make.” He said that the government and other members of the S&D Group have common principles, such as equality and the fight against climate change. The Malta Independent referred to Abela’s comments on the government’s work, he said that every time the PL government made a promise, it kept it, and built upon it. “If in July we achieved a record low amount of unemployment, we built on this and improved on it.” The Malta Independent / One

A new PN government will extend paid leave to new fathers upon the birth of their children, Opposition Leader Bernard Grech said during a political activity on Sunday. While not giving details, he ,promised that this extension would be “substantial”. The Times reports Grech saying that “Families in all of their forms must be strengthened because it is the crux of where people are nurtured and developed.” “Part of our vision for the family is for every couple that welcomes a new baby to be able to give that child the attention that it needs.” “We also want to empower new mothers to be able to receive the support that they need from the person with whom they are going to be raising a child,” he continued. Times of Malta / Net News

Former prime minister Joseph Muscat on Sunday said he had no reason to fear further investigations into claims his family is linked to offshore company Egrant. “I assure everyone that I have nothing against any further steps to put at rest even the slightest doubt that some people seem to be intent in continuing to raise.  Bring it on,” he wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday morning.  Muscat was referring to a report on Sunday’s Times which reported reported that an expert report which is part of a Pilatus Bank inquiry, recommended further steps be taken with US authorities to get to the bottom of transaction claims surrounding Egrant Sunday Times / Malta Independent

Updated 0900 Newspaper review

Illum says that the PN’s representative on Environment and Resources Authority, Chris Ciantar, recused himself from the decision about the waste-to-energy incinerator project citing a conflict of interest.

Malta Today reports that Labour MP Ian Castaldi Paris had exchanged text messages with Yorgen Fenech in 2019 claiming to own a multi-million real estate portfolio in London. He later told authorities that he had only been bluffing.

The Sunday Times says that an inquiry in Pilatus Bank is recommending further investigations into once-secret Panamian company Egrant. US authorities are expected to interview former bank employee Maria Efimova about her claims about the company.

Il-Mument reports an increase in the cost of living affecting many products and services. A statement by the Nationalist Party warns that rising costs have an impact on families and businesses.

It-Torċa speaks to a social worker who notes a rise in the number minors abusing of other children online. He called for a nationwide study to establish the extent of the problem and recommend action.

The Independent on Sunday speaks to teams playing in the lower-tier football leagues who complained that they feel neglected by the association since the pandemic. Players and officials said that the MFA is ignoring them to focus on the top league.

Kullħadd covers an address by Prime Minister Robert Abela to the 70th session of the United Nations. Abela said that Malta aspires to become an example of good governance for small countries.

The Independent on Sunday speaks to a Health Ministry official who said that Malta will wait for recommendations by the European Medicines Authority before extending the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to children under 12 years.

Malta Today says that a fifth of the population at the end of 2020 was made of non-Maltese citizens, the same share as the year before. The figures contradict claims that the pandemic drove an exodus of foreign workers in Malta.

The Sunday Times reveals that the environmental watchdog had repeatedly warned a Marsa scrapyard about risks of blazes in the past five years until a huge fire broke out earlies this month.

Illum reports that blogger Manuel Delia and NGO’s Repubblika president, Robert Aquilina, have had security detail for the past five weeks following reports they filed with the police. The pair said they received direct threats on themselves and their families.

Il-Mument carries an interview with PN spokesperson for education Clyde Puli who said that the party’s proposals for a review of salaries in the education sector will give greater opportunity for students to succeed.

Kullħadd quotes a Eurofound statistic which finds a rising level of optimism about the future among people in Malta in the year before Covid-19. The results placed the Maltese as the third most optimist country in the EU.

It-Torċa reports that the European Parliament is discussing legislation to set limits on exposure to asbestos by workers. An EP committee is proposing mandatory protective measures once a minimum threshold is reached.

Morning Briefing

President Vella expresses concern at rising populism

President of Malta George Vella has expressed his concern on populism while pointing out the importance of a multilateral approach in foreign affairs. President Vella brought up these issues while addressing guests at an event organised by the Embassy of Malta in Germany to mark the 57th anniversary of Malta’s independence. “Both Malta and Germany have at heart the multilateral approach in foreign affairs”, President Vella said. He explained how the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic further reinforced this belief and emphasised the importance of unity in such challenges. He said that multilateralism allows countries to come together to achieve common objectives.

Education Minister says schools ready for re-opening

Education Minister Justyne Caruana has announced that State schools are ready to welcome staff from tomorrow, with students joining on Wednesday, in full respect of protocols set up by the health authorities. She said that 85% of students aged 16+ and over 73% of students in the 12 to 15 age group have been vaccinated. This has led to an additional 109 classes being added to ensure the respective distancing is maintained. Meanwhile, the Malta PSD Association said in a statement yesterday that PSD primary school teachers might not have enough time to conduct these lessons if they had a syllabus of academic subjects. Earlier this week Education officials had indicated the possibility of using educators who teach non-academic subjects to fill shortages in primary schools, leading the MUT to open an industrial dispute.

Covid-19 Update
Health authorities detected 16 new virus cases over the previous 24 hours. A total of 44 patients recovered overnight reducing the active case tally to 443. As a result, the number of active COVID-19 patients in hospital stands at 443.

CDE News

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