President reflections – Malta News Briefing – Sunday 4 April 2021 – Update

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President’s second year – President George Vella reaffirmed his worries about the threat of widespread construction in a message on Easter Sunday, while also discussing other topics such as the political situation in the country. Addressing the nation on Easter Sunday, which also marked his second anniversary as the country’s President, having been sworn in on 4 April 2019, the President spoke about the Covid-19 hardships, as well as national unity.

Easter Celebrations – The sharing of the bread is not just a rite we celebrate but a lifestyle: sharing your food with those that are hungry, your life with your loved ones, giving your live for your friends and brothers, Archbishop Charles Scicluna said during Easter Sunday Mass at St Paul’s Cathedral, in Mdina.

PN Leader Speech – Malta needs to rid itself of politicians who think of themselves and harm Malta’s name, Opposition Leader Bernard Grech said on Sunday morning. Grech delivered a message to the public to commemorate Easter Sunday, where he reflected on how celebrations this year will be starkly different from usual. “This is a feast that, throughout the week, will mark the celebration of many traditions, cultures and beliefs in our country. Normally today, the squares would be full of families, children, youth and grandparents”, Grech said. – MaltaIndependent

Covid-19 Update

Other news – The police on Sunday identified a man who they believe tried to rob a Marsascala store on Friday evening. TimesofMalta

Migration Standoff – The 270 migrants who were stranded in the Mediterranean were all taken to Lampedusa, the Malta Independent reports, citing TVM. NGOs had seen around three boats with migrants, amounting to around 270 people in total. On Saturday, NGO Alarm Phone said that two of the three boats in distress were rescued to Lampedusa after three days of non-assistance. Malta Independent

Updated 0850 – Newspaper Review

Malta Today reveals that the owner of Macbridge, Cheng Chem, was directing the government on the development of a visa residence programme for individuals who could not apply for the cash for passport scheme. Chen eventually secured the concession.

The Sunday Times says that the Labour Party set up a strategy team led by former OPM spokesperson Kurt Farrugia to start planning the election campaign. No date has been identified but sources said the Prime Minister is eyeing the second half of this year.

Illum says that the government plans to reopen restaurants and bars towards the beginning of May, giving first priority to schools and retail stores which are scheduled to reopen within a few weeks.

The Independent on Sunday asks Nexia International about Brian Tonna’s affiliate company in Malta, Nexia BT. A spokesperson said that the company is no longer a member of the network but did not specify reasons.

It-Torċa speaks with young couples about obstacles in becoming homeowners. A man said that the 10 percent deposit requirement for home loans is the greatest challenge faced by most young families.  

Il-Mument speaks to Pitkalija Association president, Jan Bonello, who said that members have been forced to stop their operations after discussions with Agriculture Minister Anton Refalo collapsed.

Kullħadd quotes an EU Commission survey which finds that economic sentiment in March reached pre-pandemic levels. Industries and businesses in Malta registered a higher rate of confidence than other member states.

Malta Today speaks to President Emeritus Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca who said that the Labour Party owes an apology to those who supported it. The former social policy minister said the party needs a soul-searching exercise to rediscover its moral credentials.

The Sunday Times quotes a statement by health authorities saying that less than one percent of those who received the Covid-19 vaccine have contracted the virus after the jab. The vaccine takes around two weeks to develop immunity.

The Independent on Sunday speaks to the Infrastructure Ministry about progress on the proposed Gozo-Malta tunnel. A spokesperson said that the pandemic has delayed studies that involve stakeholder consultation.

It-Torċa carries an interview with Education Minister Justyne Caruana who said that she felt targeted for her work by “irresponsible media”. The minister said that women in politics still face an upward struggle.

Kullħadd quotes Prime Minister Robert Abela who said that the government has a pro-market agenda. Interviewed on national television, Abela said that most businesses in Malta have a good reputation.

Illum carries a feature on the traditional Easter celebrations in the Cottonera which have, this year, been suspended because of the pandemic. The paper describes the main custom of running through the streets with the statue of the risen Christ.

Il-Mument says that people close to suspended Parliamentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar were irked by the Prime Minister’s handling of Education Minister Justyne Caruana who, despite allegations of misconduct, has been kept in her role.

Morning Briefing

Two boats taken to Lampedusa, fate of 110 migrants still unclear

110 individuals who spent the past three days on the high seas remained adrift in the Maltese search and rescue region, with NGO Alarm Phone suggesting that not only the Armed Forces of Malta continued to reject calls for assistance but also that it refused to coordinate rescue by merchant ships in the area.

Late yesterday evening the NGO confirmed that two of three boars in distress, carrying some 160 migrants were taken to Lampedusa.

The destiny of the third boat, located in the South West of Malta, remained unclear till early morning of Easter Sunday.

NGO Repubblika urged the Maltese and the Italian authorities to step and rescue the asylum seekers and insisted that it is the duty of states to safeguard lives.

Senior Lecturer and the Head of Department of Civil Law at the University of Malta, Dr David Zammit, started an online petition urging the government to take the necessary actions to save these people. The signatories asked “this so that Malta’s reputation for courage and hospitality, earned after centuries of cruel wars, may not stand disgraced and that we will not be remembered as the generation who, when it came to the test, allowed fear and hate to come between us and the sacred obligations to rescue drowning people and to grant asylum”.

Farmers to be allowed to sell produce from Pitkalija

Government has deplored the actions taken by the ‘Assoċjazzjoni tal-Pitkala’, on behalf of its members, to stop the Farmers Cooperative and the non-members of the association from selling agricultural products from the Pitkalija market centre. In a press release on Saturday, the Ministry for Agriculture said that these actions will disrupt the market operation and leave a negative effect on the farmers’ community.

The actions by the association were taken in the light of its request for the removal of the banking guarantee imposed on every renewal of the intermediary licence or the issue of new licence.

The Ministry insisted that the banking guarantee is intended to act as a safety instrument so that each payment due by the intermediary is honoured, and therefore, this is not a frivolous need simply created to impose extra costs on the intermediary. It added that the current legislation makes it clear that an intermediary who wishes to renew the licence to operate as a ‘Pitkal’ – the middleman between farmers and vegetable vendors – should provide a banking guarantee.

Covid-19 Update

62 new cases of coronavirus were repored by health authorities on Saturday, with 114 recovering. This represents a slight increase over the past few days, but still lead to a decline in the number of active cases, which now stand at 633.
Meanwhile, two men of a relatively young age (65 and 62) passed away, taking the fatalities to 397.

CDE News