Updated 1745- News Portal Briefing
Times of Malta reports that Malta is pushing for EU-wide cooperation on the issuing of a vaccination certificate for those who get the COVID-19 jab, with Health Minister Chris Fearne urging European counterparts to decide on the matter soon.
MaltaToday reports that the Consumers’ Association has condemned a €5 fee for banking services by HSBC Malta, which it said targeted low-income earners and pensioners unfairly.
Newsbook reports that ALS campaigner Bjorn Formosa made an appeal to provide Dar Bjorn residents the anti-Covid vaccine now.
TVM reports that last night at around. 7.30pm, the Police were informed that a hold up had taken place in Rudolph Street, Sliema.
The Health Department reported 121 new cases of coronavirus in the previous 24 hours, with 127 recovering. The number of active cases has reached 2594. 3512 swab tests were carried out in the past 24 hours.
Meanwhile, the number of deaths linked to Covid-19 has reached 235.
Tourism decreases 75%
Inbound tourist trips for the first eleven months of 2020 amounted to 645,626, a decrease of 75.2 per cent over the same period in 2019, the NSO said today.
Total nights spent by inbound tourists reached nearly 5.0 million, a drop of 72.7 per cent when compared to the same period of 2019. Total tourism expenditure reached nearly €442.0 million, 79.2 per cent less than that recorded during the same period in 2019.
Total expenditure per capita stood at €685, a decrease of 15.8 per cent
when compared to the same period in 2019
Doctors’ industrial dispute called off
The Medical Union called off an industrial dispute after doctors were assured that Grech would be returning to his post once work on an EU funds strategy is complete.
Grech, a consultant and lecturer who has in recent months served as one of public health chief Charmaine Gauci’s right-hand men, was told over the weekend that his services within the response team were no longer needed. Instead, he would be redeployed to work on the National Health Strategy.
However, the government has not confirmed a timeline for when Grech will be redeployed. Grech is understood to have advised the government as well as other education stakeholders to keep schools closed following the Christmas holidays.
Updated 0830 – Newspaper Review
Business Today quotes deputy president of the Chamber of SMEs, Philip Fenech, who warned that it would be unfair for the government vouchers to be issued at a time when bars and clubs are kept closed. The Economy Ministry has been tight-lipped on timing.
The Independent speaks to Economy Minister Silvio Schembri about a second round of government vouchers. The minister said the scheme is being delayed until after the number of infection cases starts to decline.
The Times reports on the resignation of MP Gavin Gulia, moments after he was sworn in. Sources in the Labour Party hinted that Commissioner for Persons with Disability Oliver Scicluna will be co-opted to fill the seat.
In-Nazzjon quotes PN Leader Bernard Grech who accused the Prime Minister of ‘manipulating the democratic system’ following the instant resignation of newly-elected MP Gavin Gulia. Grech says the move ridicules the highest institution in the country.
The Malta Business Weekly publishes an interview with the CEO of Electrofix Group, Joseph Schembri who spoke about the challenges in the manufacturing sector in Malta to shift to renewable energy sources.
Business Today reports on a €37 million investment by Malta Freeport to reduce the environmental impact of its operations on residents in the area. A new system will allow ships to switch engines off once they are moored at the port.
L-Orizzont says that Malta ranks 45th among 48 countries in Europe in the rate of female representation with women making less than 14 percent of parliament members. Sweden’s rate stands highest at 47 percent.
The Times says that homes for the elderly are raising concerns about the speed of the inoculation process against the vaccine, which professionals in the sector say is slower than what they expected.
L-Orizzont reports that the General Workers Union is demanding that the national Covid-19 vaccine programme gives priority to bank employees whose jobs puts them and their families at a higher risk of infection.
The Independent quotes a statement by the Medical Association calling for a ‘more transparent’ vaccination process, urging the government to publish figures of available doses and administered vaccines.
L-Orizzont announces a court decision against three men accused of filming and distributing pornographic material of a woman without her knowledge. The victim, who was 16 at the time, was awarded over €32,000 in compensation.
Gulia resigns from Parliament, Oliver Scicluna touted for seat
Labour MP Gavin Gulia resigned from Parliament minutes after his swearing in, saying that the Prime Minister had asked him to stay on as chairman of the Malta Tourism Authority in view of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 situation. He was also needed to lead the authority’s 2020 strategic plan. This move, which has attracted wide criticism for contempt of Parliament, now allows Labour to co-opt an MP of their choice.
In a statement, the Opposition said “Robert Abela is yet again manipulating the democratic system to put his own people in parliament and not the candidates who the people would have chosen,” the PN said.
The Times of Maltarevealed that Robert Abela’s favourite to fill in the vacant seat is Oliver Scicluna, chairman of the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability.
Charles Azzopardi, the former Rabat Mayor who contested the casual election, said that Gavin Gulia’s resignation from parliament seconds after taking his oath represents ‘death to country’s democracy’
€1.3m in fines by FIAU in two years
Finance Minister Clyde Caruana said that the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) received €1,364,928 in administrative fines that were issued over a two year period, between 1 January 2019 and 14 December 2020.
The Minister added that this amount excluded money from fines that are being appealed and explained that the money coming from such fines are used for FIAU operations. “Appealed fines are not paid until there is a final court decision.”
Pilatus competent person resigns
The MFSA announced that Lawrence Connell, who was appointed by the Malta Financial Services Authority as the “competent person” tasked with overseeing the assets of Pilatus Bank following the arrest of its chairman, resigned the position with immediate effect on Wednesday.
Auditor Robert Ancilleri will be appointed in this position.
Connell had been appointed on 22 March 2018, when Pilatus Bank was barred from dealing with clients’ assets in the wake of the US arrest of its chairman and owner Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, an Iranian national who was charged with violating US sanctions against Iran.
A total of 189 new COVID-19 cases were reported by Health Authorities on Wednesday through 3,405 swab tests. This takes the national case tally to close to 15,000 cases.
107 persons have also recovered, meaning there are currently 2,601 active cases. The death tally stands at 234.