Medical Council not investigating benefit fraud racket yet / Malta News Briefing – Tuesday 12 September 2023

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Discussions on temping agencies at advanced stage – Parl Sec

The government is in advanced discussions about regulating temping agencies, according to parliamentary secretary for social dialogue, Andy Ellul. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Robert Abela announced plans for legislation to oversee these agencies. Temping agencies, which help organizations find temporary workers, have faced criticism for contributing to an influx of foreign workers, straining the country’s overpopulated infrastructure. Ellul stated that the government has held several meetings with social partners on this issue and will attend another meeting soon. Discussions with social partners are at an advanced stage. (Maltatoday)

Medical Council not investigating benefit fraud racket yet

The Medical Council is not currently conducting an investigation into the recent disability benefit fraud case exposed last week, which also involves a family doctor and former Labour MP. Simon Micallef Stafrace, the council’s president and a lawyer, explained that they are awaiting the outcome of the ongoing criminal investigation, considering it to be in its early stages. He added that if further details emerge, the council may initiate its own investigation. One of the council’s responsibilities is to probe allegations of misconduct involving medical professionals and has the authority to impose sanctions. Micallef Stafrace emphasized that the council is closely monitoring the situation, which came to light after it was revealed that’hundreds’ of individuals had wrongfully received substantial disability benefits. (Times of Malta)

Budget 2024: Finance Minister says reducing deficit is a priority

Finance Minister Clyde Caruana said that slashing the deficit will be a priority in next year’s budget, while indicating that high inflation is expected to persist. Speaking at an MCESD meeting, Caruana cknowledged that Malta’s deficit would still exceed the 3 percent threshold next year, indicating the need for reductions and efforts to identify areas within ministry budgets that can be trimmed. Despite recommendations from the European Commission and International Monetary Fund to phase out energy subsidies, Caruana confirmed that these subsidies would persist. Government is expected to have tighter margins to operate given that the EU is working o reintroduce excessive deficit procedure rules by bringing back the 3 per cent deficit limit, with some flexibility. (Independent)


Benefits racket has Abela’s protection – Grech

Opposition leader Bernard Grech asserted on Monday that the disability benefits scandal occurred under the protection and endorsement of Robert Abela’s leadership. Addressing a gathering of supporters at Parliament Square, Grech accused Abela of not only being willing to deceive and conceal information for political gain but also of being prepared to exploit vulnerable individuals. Responding to the Nationalist Party’s call to protest against the benefits fraud scandal, hundreds of supporters joined the demonstration after revelations unveiled fraudulent claims leading to monthly payments averaging around €450 per month from the Social Security Department. These benefits were being handed out in exchange of votes, Grech charged, indicating irregularities in the last election. (Maltatoday)

MEA wants govt to address population crisis in Budget 2024
The Malta Employers Association has called on the government to include measures to make its spending more transparent and to set up a task force to address the “population crisis” which Malta is facing as part of its proposals for the upcoming Budget. “The main characteristics of 2023 have been continued economic growth, high inflation, shortage of human resources, skills gaps, and increasing public debt. Tourism numbers are up and, in some months, have exceeded 2019 levels. The infrastructure is straining under the weight of neglect, increased economic activity and a rising population,” the MEA said in the introduction to its proposal document. The MEA recalled that a survey carried out by MEA in July this year found that 74% of companies are concerned that productivity is not matching wage inflation, and a further 73% reported that a COLA of €13 will be problematic.

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