EU Commission President to visit Malta / News Briefing – Tuesday 14 September 2021

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Updated 1740 – Newsportal Review

The Times of Malta reports that Health Minister Chris Fearne has promised to modify Malta’s strict travel restrictions following calls to allow residents arriving from ‘dark red countries’ to quarantine at home. More information will be announced in a news conference on Wednesday but it is expected that he will modify the hotel quarantine measure for residents. 

The Independent says that Transport Minister Ian Borg avoided questions on whether the government would be holding a referendum on the Gozo-Malta undersea tunnel, insisting that the government intends to stick to its electoral pledge.

Newsbook highlights a PN press conference during which the Party insisted that residents should be allowed to quarantine at home.

Maltatoday reports that four men have been remanded in custody on charges of laundering some €21,000 of drug money through sports betting. Brothers Charleston and Redent Cassar were charged together with Jerome Azzopardi and Josef Majri with laundering the proceeds of drug deals by placing bets on sporting events.

TVM reports that credit rating agency S&P has confirmed Malta’s category A rating with economic prospects looking good. The country’s rating was maintained in category A-, with the outlook for the Maltese economy also being kept at a stable level, as the situation has been in recent months since the pandemic began.

Updated 1245 – Mid-Day Briefing

Covid-19 Update: Active cases increased again on Wednesday reaching 747, as health authorities reported 50 new cases as opposed to 26 recoveries. 35 patients are currently in hospital, while two are in intensive therapy.

EU Commission President to visit Malta: Von der Leyen will visit Malta this Thursday as the EU transfers the first tranche of €345million in EU funding as part of the recovery and resilience plan approved by the European Commission, TVM reports. She is visiting European leaders to personally present the monies which will be used in different projects and initiatives aiming at helping economies recover.

Finance Minister outlines budgetary objectives: Environment, living standards, sensible spending and economic growth will be the focus of the next budget, which Government plans to announce on October 11th. Minister of Finance Clyde Caruana revealed this on Tuesday at a pre-budget consultation meeting during which he re-iterated the commitment not to increase taxation. Despite this promise, Government will be looking at halving the budget deficit, which has increased drastically over the past two years. Caruana insisted that this will happen thanks to increased revenue from economic growth, reduced spending on COVID measures and a clampdown on tax evasion, particularly VAT.Malta Chamber calls for budget addressing immediate needs while paving way for long-term vision: “Next month’s budget needs to determine the country’s foreseeable future by addressing immediate challenges the country is currently facing” the President of the Chamber Ms Marisa Xuereb said as the Malta Chamber presented its pre-budget proposals to the Prime Minister and members of the cabinet. Ms Xuereb called on government not to embark on a populist agenda, a so-called electoral budget, but one which directs the economy towards recovery with difficult decisions expected to be made in 2022”. The key proposals pushed by The Malta Chamber, are based on 6 themes, namely economic growth and recovery, good governance, human capital and education, digitalisation, sustainability, and internationalisation.

Updated 0900 – Newspaper Review

The Times says that Infrastructure Malta has shortlisted the sole bidder that made it through the initial tendering process of the Gozo-Malta tunnel project. The international consortium was one of four that originally bid for the offer.

L-Orizzont leads with a set of pre-budget proposals presented by the General Workers Union. Union secretary-general Josef Bugeja said that the recommendations are based on attracting economic investment that raises the quality of life.

The Independent reports that the Chamber of SMEs unveiled a set of recommendations for economic measures ahead of the upcoming budget, focusing on overcoming the effects of the pandemic and the FATF grey-listing.

In-Nazzjon quotes PN Leader Bernard Grech that new a new government led by him would fund all cancer treatment given at EU hospitals outside of Malta. Grech said that patients and their families should not have to beg for money to receive treatment.

The Independent reports that President George Vella visited the site of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination in Bidnija, laying a wreath and condemning the killing. The Office of the President said the gesture helps a national process of healing.

The Times reports that school attendance has been made compulsory again after the policy was suspended because of the pandemic last year. School attendance fell to 75 per cent in 2020-2021 raising concerns about the effects on children’s education.

L-Orizzont quotes the latest Eurobarometer survey findings showing that 69 per cent of people in Malta approve of the Covid-19 measures adopted by the government. The average rate in the EU is 53 per cent.

In-Nazzjon speaks to bakers who said that the rise in the price of bread will impact other bakery products too. The price of the Maltese ftira will go up by 10 cents while small buns will cost 5 cents more.

Morning Briefing

PN promises free cancer treatment, IVF reform

A future PN government would provide completely free cancer treatment, Opposition leader Bernard Grech has promised. Grech said that cancer patients should not pay for their own medical treatment or beg charities, but should have their expenses covered by the State. The PN Leader also committed to overhaul the IVF treatment system, and ensure there was a specialist on the island at all times.
“There are lives at stake here. If we have money to waste on this government’s excesses then we have money to invest in families,” he said. Grech also said that a Nationalist government would work on improving the salaries of health care workers, and it would see to it that adequate bonuses are also given.

PN Deputy Leader out of ITU

PN deputy leader Robert Arrigo has been transferred out of Mater Dei’s Intensive Therapy Unit more than a week after developing a serious blood infection.
Writing on Facebook, his wife Marina and sons Alan and Andrew, said the PN MP has shown progress, and was transferred out of the ITU for further recovery. “We would like to express our thanks and gratitude to all doctors, nurses and staff of ITU for their incredible work and care,” they wrote.

Covid-19 Update: 35 new cases of coronavirus were reported on Monday, as 43 recovered, triggering a slight decline in active cases to 723. 35 patients are recovering in hospital but 4 remain in ITU.

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