SME Chamber laments unfair licence fees / Malta News Briefing – Tuesday 17 May 2021

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SME Chamber laments unfair licence fees: Tourist boat operators are being made to pay tens of thousands of euro” in licence fees despite the lack of tourists in Malta, the Chamber of SMEs. In a statement, the Chamber noted that while the Malta Tourism Authority has waived licence fees for entities that fall under its remit, Transport Malta has not done likewise. The Chamber noted that operators had been as hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic as any other sector which relied on tourism for income.

Covid-19 Update: Two new Covid-19 cases were reported today, while 21 have recovered, health authorities said. The number of active cases now stands at 128. No fatalities were reported for the 12th consecutive day. 1,693 swab tests took place on Monday.

PN data leaked: Personal details concerning some 21,000 current and former PN members have been leaked online after the Party refused to pay a ransom to cyberhackers. The data was stolen in March by a group called Avvadon Ransomware. The leaked data, which was uploaded on the dark web, includes names, ID card numbers, phone numbers and addresses stolen from a database containing personal details of current and former party members.

Newspaper Review

The Times reports that hackers have released the details of about 21,000 PN members on the dark web. The party refused to negotiate with the group behind the cyber-attack launched last month and said that the compromised data was from before 2014.

The Independent speaks to the president of the Medical Association, Martin Balzan, who said that facemasks and social distancing have had a positive impact on respiratory diseases like influenza.

L-Orizzont reports that the Authority of Social Care Services conducted over 3,200 inspections last year. More than two-thirds of them were carried out in homes for the elderly, an increase from 522 the year before.

In-Nazzjon says that the PN is calling for the resignation of Minister Carmelo Abela following investigations by the police. The party spokesperson for National Security Beppe Fenech Adami asked whether the Prime Minister knew of allegations linking the minister to crime.

The Independent reports that the Lija local council filed an objection against a planned project to develop a farm into a block of 65 residential units and 163 garages. The council said the block would alter the character of the area.

L-Orizzont says that Malta retained the top position in the annual report for civil liberties by ILGA-Europe for the sixth consecutive row, registering 94 points. Second-placed Belgium achieved 74 percentage points.

In-Nazzjon quotes PN Leader Bernard Grech who said that the party is committed to eliminating prejudice against the LGBTQI+ community. Grech expressed concern about discrimination based on sexual orientation on the International Day against Homophobia.  

The Times says that the police have arrested a man over a murder in Għarb in 2018. CCTV footage indicates that the victim, a 42-year-old Egyptian national, got into the car with the alleged hitman a few hours before he was found dead in a pool of blood.

In-Nazzjon reportsthat the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest takes place tonight with Malta’s representative Destiny performing in 16th place. Betting odds rank the singer’s number, Je Me Casse, among the top three songs in the festival.

Morning Briefing

Minister Carmelo Abela gives statement to Police after PN demands resignation

OPM Minister Carmelo Abela said that this evening he voluntarily went to the Police headquarters to give a statement on the allegation being made against him. The Minister added that he gave the Police a copy of a declaration on oath he had presented in Court in the libel case against Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi. He said that he expressed his availability to fully cooperate with the Police to relieve himself of any doubt and truth prevails.

Earlier on Monday, the PN said that the Minister’s position was no longer tenable: “The PN’s stance is clear. His position is not tenable. He lied when he said that the police didn’t speak to him and that he doesn’t remember the police speaking to him,” PN representative Mark Anthony Sammut said.

Rosianne Cutajar takes drug test after coke video

Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar has undertaken a drugs test after a video featuring her partner in the presence of a man taking what appears to be cocaine made the rounds on Whatsapp and other social media. In a comment to The Times of Malta, Cutajar said that both she and her partner Daniel Farrugia had voluntarily taken drugs tests at St James Hospital on Monday. The paper has seen a copy of both tests which cleared Cutajar and Farrugia of the use of illegal drugs.

In the video, Farrugia is seen alone in a room with a third party who appears to be snorting cocaine.

Alexandra Mamo, Ramon Mercieca to be appointed Deputy Commissioners

Interior Minister Byron Camilleri announced that Alexandra Mamo will be the first women who will serve as Deputy Police Commissioner.
Dr Camilleri confirmed the appointment while he was replying to a parliamentary question by Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi. He stated that he can confirm this after the conclusion of the selection process following an issued call and as the appeal period has elapsed.

Meanwhile, Assistant Commissioner Ramon Mercieca will also be appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Force, together with Ms Mamo. He will lead the transformation strategy and community policing together with Commissioner Angelo Gafa.

Covid-19 Update

The number of active cases in Malta declined further on Monday with four new cases reported together with 17 recoveries, taking the tally down to 147. These new cases were identified through 1,541 swab tests. No new deaths were recorded, with the total number of fatalities remaining unchanged at 417.

CDE News