Malta: Food prices push inflation upwards / News Briefing – Thursday 22 July 2021

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Updated 1300

Covid-19 Update:  166 new cases found today as 25 people recovered. 4,302 swab tests were taken as active cases reached 2487. Of the 199 cases reported yesterday, 149 cases were 10-39 year olds. The average age of yesterday’s cases was 28. A total of 17 Covid positive patients are being treated in Mater Dei, one of whom is in the ITU.

Updated 1124 – Food prices push inflation upwards

The food index has once again resulted as the main contributor towards inflation in Malta, the NSO said today. In June 2021, the annual rate of inflation as measured by the RPI was 1.47 per cent, up from the 1.27 per cent in May
2021. The 12-month moving average rate for June stood at 0.55 per cent.

The largest upward impact on annual inflation was measured in the Food Index (+0.48 percentage points), while a
downward impact was recorded in the Transport and communication Index (-0.10 percentage points).

Updated 0900 – IMF calls for tapering of business support measures

Most of the Covid-19 support measures are set to expire by the end of 2021, and according to a report by the International Monetary Fund, as economic growth gains momentum, the authorities should prepare a plan for tapering support measures, including adjusting their size and eligibility criteria. Unwinding of support measures will need to be carefully managed and well-coordinated between fiscal and financial sector policies to avoid “cliff effects” that could derail the recovery, the IMF said. “If health risks reemerge or the recovery falters, some support measures may need to be extended, refocusing on sectors and people that are still significantly affected by the pandemic.”

Full story here.

Updated 0835 – Newspaper Review

Business Today says that businesses raised concerns about proposals by the European Commission to tax aviation and shipping as part of a plan to curb emissions. Sustainable Development Minister Miriam Dalli said Malta will make its case before the Commission.

The Malta Business Weekly quotes Prime Minister Robert Abela that the government will make a focused effort to implement the recommendations by the FATF and take the country out of the grey list.

The Independent says that the Corinthia Marina in St Julian’s is nearing maximum capacity as a quarantine hotel and the tourism authority has issued a call for a second facility to host unvaccinated visitors.

The Times says that the tourism authority has chartered a plane to return around 130 French students with Covid-19 to their home country this afternoon. The authority has arranged similar flights for more students this week.

L-Orizzont reports that 17 of the 18 social policy measures announced in the budget have been implemented. The permanent secretary in the Family and Solidarity Ministry said that the measures address challenges by a broad range of vulnerable sectors.

In-Nazzjon covers a speech by PN Leader Bernard Grech who appealed for all stakeholders to join a common front to restore international trust and credibility in Malta as a financial jurisdiction.

The Independent follows a conference by FinanceMalta addressed by the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader. Robert Abela said that the outlook for the financial services sector remains positive while Bernard Grech said the country must regain credibility.

The Times quotes HSBC chief executive Simon Vaughan Johnson that many elderly people are experiencing financial abuse, often by their own family members with access to their bank cards and accounts.

The Malta Business Weekly asks Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo about plans to ease Covid-19 restrictions for incoming travellers. The minister said that measures are introduced and relaxed on the advice of health authorities.

Business Today reports on the opening of a 3D print farm in Bulebel industrial estate by Invent 3D. With over 130 printers spread on a 500 square metre site, the facility is the biggest print farm in Malta.

In-Nazzjon quotes a PN statement warning that the country cannot afford to stay in the FATF greylist for 18 months. The party said that, if elected, it would return Malta to the whitelist within three months.

L-Orizzont quotes a Eurobarometer survey showing that the confidence of businesses in the judiciary increased by a fifth from last year, registering the ninth-highest rise among the EU members states.

In-Nazzjon reports that the number of active Covid-19 cases reached 2,340 after another 199 new infections were registered on Wednesday. One patient is in intensive care at Mater Dei while another 14 are receiving treatment at the hospital.

Morning Briefing

Grey-listing: PM says Malta redoubling efforts, Bernard Grech promises results within three months

Malta is “redoubling its efforts” to get off the grey list of untrustworthy financial jurisdictions, Prime Minister Robert Abela said at the Finance Malta seminar, arguing that the country has built a strong legal and regulatory framework, having implemented a number of reforms in recent months, it must now prove that these rules are being enforced by the authorities. “We are redoubling national efforts to implement reforms, and will be boosting resources, to the courts, prosecutorial and law enforcement entities,” Abela said.

At the same time, he said that he was heartened by recent positive reports by credit rating agencies. “DBRS has confirmed our A rating, while Fitch have issued a press release to state that we will retain our A+ rating. The European Commission has also indicated its trust in our economy by upgrading our forecast economic growth by twice the amount it upgraded its forecast for the rest of the European Union,” he added.

PN leader Bernard Grech said that the Opposition was willing to work with the government to help get Malta off the financial grey list, as the country needs to clean up its image. “We have to convince our international partners, professionals abroad, and also countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and the rest, that Malta can be trusted,” he argued, committing his Party to take Malta off the grey-list within three months of being elected to Government.

Small crimes to be settled in a Tribunal

A number of crimes considered as minor will be removed from the Malta Criminal Code and instead of continuing to be heard before Judges and Magistrates, will henceforth be passed on to the Commissioner for Justice and settled in the Tribunal. This was announced by Justice and Governance Minister Edward Zammit Lewis, whi explained that the crimes range from small personal disputes to offences against other persons in the street. The Minister added this is expected to considerably reduce the number of pending cases in the Courts, whilst letting Judges and Magistrates concentrate on more serious crimes.

Covid-19 Update: 199 new cases of coronavirus were reported on Wednesday, along 30 recoveries. These were identified through 3,976 swab tests. 15 patients are currently hospitalised, one of them in ITU.

CDE News