Covid-19 Update: An 82-year-old man became COVID-19 420th victim, despite having been vaccinated and had recovered from the virus earlier. This was announced by Health Minister Chris Fearne announced earlier today. There were no new cases today, and with eleven recoveries, active cases have gone down to 33. Fo the first time in 15 months, there are no Covid cases in hospital.
Regulator wants power to fine NGOs: Commissioner for voluntary organisations Anthony Abela Medici has called for new powers to address what he described as “disinterest” shown by certain organisations in abiding by the law. The regulator responsible for supervising NGOs said that it was time for his office to be given the necessary tools to address the “laissez-faire” attitude of many NGOs. Writing in the commission’s annual report for 2020, Abela Medici says this would best be done by passing legislation empowering his office with the ability to impose administrative sanctions.
MDA laments high fees as reason behind halted road works: Most road works around Malta have come to a halt because many contractors can no longer afford to fulfil the paramaters of their tenders under present day costs. This was revealed by Business Today. Malta Developers Association (MDA) president Sandro Chetcuti said that intense discussions with the government are currently underway, as the construction industry was struggling to find spaces where to dump waste and debris at affordable prices. “Some of these of contractors had based their tenders on construction waste costs of between €5 and €8 per tonne,” he said. “Today, however, quarry owners charge €12 per tonne, and that is putting a strain on contractors’ budgets.”
Business Today reports that the developers’ association and the government are in talks about the prices of dumping sites for construction material. Most road works have been halted because of a lack of available space.
The Malta Business Weekly publishes an interview with the union representing architects and engineers in the public sector. David Spiteri said that the government is showing unwillingness to review ten-year-old sectorial agreements with the union’s members.
The Times quotes Foreign Affairs Minister Evarist Bartolo who said that Malta does not deserve to be grey-listed by Financial Action Task Force. His comments came ahead of a final vote on the county’s compliance with anti-money laundering standards.
In-Nazzjon leads with an open letter by PN Leader Bernard Grech to the Financial Action Task Force, assuring delegates that an alternative government would rebuild Malta’s reputation as a top financial services centre.
The Independent speaks with Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia who said that the Labour Party is shifting its attention from reducing unemployment to protecting the environment.
L-Orizzont says that a government accommodation scheme is providing housing to 330 families. The Housing Authority is leasing empty property on ten-year contracts, offering minimum risk to owners while increasing its stock.
The Malta Business Weekly quotes the director-general of the employers’ association, Joseph Farrugia, who urged all stakeholders to look beyond GDP in measuring the economy. He said that other countries have already established broader metrics.
The Independent reports on a pledge by the PN to revoke the deal with Steward Health Care if elected to government and invest the money in new specialised health services in Gozo for both residents and medical tourists.
In-Nazzjon covers the launch of PN policy proposals focusing on healthcare in Gozo. The party is promising a new MRI service, wider chemotherapy treatment, and homes for the elderly in five localities among other proposals.
L-Orizzont reports that a 23-year-old man convicted of killing a pedestrian in 2018 was handed a three-year sentence. Michael Caruana Turner admitted that he had been drinking in Paceville on the night he involuntarily drove his car onto the pavement in St Julian’s.
The Times says that the father a man who has been missing for six months made an appeal for divers to look for his son’s car. Fifty-year-old Marcel Pisani, who uses a wheelchair, was reported missing on December 31.
Business Today says that the cut-off date for a ban on imports of petrol and diesel cars is expected to fall somewhere between 2030 and 2034. A Green Paper published by the government is requesting the public’s feedback on the timing.
PN leader writes to FATF, Finance Minister says political motives involved on grey-listing concerns
PN leader Bernard Grech has told the the FATF that Malta’s financial services industry had made “tangible and substantial investment in compliance and risk mitigation measures” and that genuine players “feel hard-done by the transgressions of some, who should have known better.” Explaining his decision to support Malta’s cause, Grech said that “this is a matter of national importance that can have an unprecedented negative impact on Malta’s financial services and gaming industries, among others”. He argued that the government was politically responsible for it, auspicating and a change of mentality was needed rather than a ‘tick-the-box’ exercise as declared by Robert Abela.
On the other hand, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana saying that ‘if logical sense is followed, the country will pass from this exercise, yet if it is polluted with ulterior political motives then nobody knows what will happen’. Yesterday, it was revealed that international experts gave the island mixed reviews in an assessment delivered yesterday. As a result, a final vote on whether or not Malta should be put on the money laundering offenders’ list will be taken next week
Three new cases of coronavirus were reported on Wednesday, while nine patients recovered. Active cases continued to decrease and now stand at 45. 1,798 swab tests were carried out yesterday. 604,033 doses of the anti-Covid jab were administered so far. 270,745 persons are now fully vaccinated.
581 families do get social homes
Minister for Social Accommodation Roderick Galdes has announced that, by the end of this year, around 581 families which sought help from the Housing Authority will have been allocated a home through the ‘Nikru biex Nassistu’ scheme. Through this scheme, vacant houses are being used for social purposes. So far, 330 families now have a roof over their heads due to this scheme, which will rise to 773 families by 2022 and 884 families by 2023.