Negotiations on Air Malta reaching end – Fin Min / Malta News Briefing – Thursday 14 September 2023

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Negotiations on Air Malta reaching end – Fin Min: Finance Minister Clyde Caruana has indicated that negotiations between the Maltese government and the European Commission concerning the future of Air Malta are in an “advanced stage” and are anticipated to result in an agreement. Caruana insisted that he was adamant on the need for the country to have a national airline during discussions with the Commission. “We need to reach a point where the country continues to possess a national airline”, he said. In April, sources in Brussels, as reported by the Times of Malta, stated that the Commission had turned down a government proposal to inject €290 million into Air Malta. Consequently, there were plans to close the airline and establish a new national carrier. Shortly afterward, Air Malta Chairman David Curmi confirmed that Malta would see the emergence of a new national airline by the year’s end. (Times of Malta)

70,000 people in Malta live alone – Census: According to newly-revealed Census data, there are 22,665 Maltese-born males and 21,270 Maltese-born females dwelling in one-person households. Among middle-aged individuals born in Malta, there is a greater tendency for men to reside on their own in comparison to women, whereas among the elderly, a higher percentage of women opt for solo living. Together, these figures constitute 63% of all individuals who live alone. Conversely, among non-Maltese individuals, who make up the remaining 37%, males are more predominant, particularly within the younger age demographics. (MaltatodaY)

Journalists, academics want publication of media experts report: More than 130 journalists and activists are urging Prime Minister Robert Abela to release the report drawn up by a committee of experts concerning the safeguarding of the media. In a joint letter, editors, journalists, academics, members of civil society, and artists are calling upon Abela to promptly make public the report from the Committee of Experts on Media. This committee of individuals was established based on the recommendations of the Public Inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Recently, it was disclosed by The Shift News that each of the nine committee members received approximately €18,000 in compensation from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to complete their work. (Newsbook)

Morning Briefing

Social Policy Minister sees no reason to resign over benefit fraud racket

Social Policy Minister Michael Falzon sees no need to resign over the revelations into the disability benefits racket. “Had I been involved in it I would have found no difficulty [to resign], but it came from outside [the ministry],” he said. “If we had found something and failed to go to the police with it, you would have rightly asked why we didn’t report it. But we did report it.” Evidence published earlier this month shows that ex-Labour MP Silvio Grixti has been implicated in a years-long racket to help “hundreds” of people fraudulently receive monthly disability benefits they were not entitled to. (Times of Malta)

NAO initiate inquiry on Film Commission rebates

The National Audit Office is currently conducting an investigation into the spending related to rebates by the Malta Film Commission, as confirmed in correspondence between the Auditor General and Members of Parliament from the Nationalist Party (PN). In a response provided to the MPs this week, Auditor General Charles Deguara stated that his office has initiated a “verification exercise” to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the commission. Last August, the Nationalist Party formally requested the Auditor General to launch an inquiry into an expenditure of approximately €137 million attributed to the Maltese Film Commission. The party contends that this substantial sum, funded by taxpayers, could have been allocated to various sectors to enhance Maltese culture, support local resources, and nurture domestic talent. (Maltatoday)

AFM to get new Operations Centre as project nears completion
The Armed Forces of Malta will soon get a new Operations Centre with the completion of a modern new building now in its final stages. This building will incorporate the entire operations carried out by the Armed Forces in emergencies involving search and rescue, military operations, and intercepting criminality. Visiting the premises, being completed with a €5 million investment, partly funded by the EU,PM Robert Abela emphasized that people’s safety will remain a priority, and therefore the Government will keep investing in the disciplinary forces so that they can keep carrying out their duties efficiently. (TVM)

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