MEA calls for pre-election recruitment to stop / Malta News Briefing – Tuesday 3 August 2021

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Latest Update 1745 – News Portal Briefing

Times of Malta reports that assistant police commissioner Ian Abdilla, who has been widely criticised for inaction over the Panama Papers investigations, has been suspended by police commissioner Angelo Gafà. 

MaltaToday reports that midwives from the Positive Birth Movement Malta (PBM) have petitioned the government to fulfil legal obligations to transpose into national law part of the European work-life balance directive, which gives fathers at least 10 days of paid paternity leave.

Newsbook reports that a group of 41 asylum seekers were rescued by the Armed Forces of Malta on Monday night.

TVM reports that the Maltese islands have been ranked among the best holiday islands in Europe. This emerges from a survey conducted by KAYAK, the world’s leading travel website.

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Assistant police commissioner Ian Abdilla suspended

Assistant police commissioner has been suspended by his superior Angelo Gafà, after drawing the wrath of the public public inquiry into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, particularly his inaction on the Panama Papers. The Malta Police Force confirmed it had suspended an MPF official in line with the Public Service Commission Disciplinary Regulations, pending investigations. The inquiry concluded that the Police “did hardly anything” to investigate media reports and that there was “direct and suspicious interference” by the prime minister’s former chief of staff Keith Schembri into police investigations.

Abdilla had already been removed from the economic crimes unit and was reportedly carrying out “operational duties”.

MEA calls for pre-election recruitment to stop
The Malta Employers Association has proposed that the government should stop “any recruitment six months prior to an election except in critical professions like teaching and care and health professionals”, in the interest of the labour market and democracy. The MEA said many times such workers normally complement their public sector job whilst “moonlighting” or conducting their own private business while being subsidised from taxpayers’ money”.

In a position paper published today, the Association said that “this drain is leading companies to resort to foreign labour, resulting in inefficiencies together with an unnecessary increase in population”. The MEA also said that the practice of engaging persons of trust needs to be rendered more restrictive, controlled, and transparent and reiterated past proposals which include limiting the number of persons that can hold such positions, providing full disclosure of remuneration packages, and periodical audits to assess whether they’re actually fulfilling their roles.

Updated 0845 – Newspaper Review

The Times quotes international human rights lawyer John Pace who raised concerns about the imprisonment of two Turkish women last week. Pace warned that the sentence ‘seriously infringes’ Malta’s international legal obligations.

The Independent says that the Rural Leases Control Board ordered the eviction of two farmers who have been renting agricultural land in Żabbar under a protected lease. The farmer’s lobby raised concerns and warned that this could set a precedent.

L-Orizzont reports that TV viewership increased by an average daily of 12 minutes during the pandemic. The Broadcasting Authority annual report found that people aged 12 and over have watched nearly two hours of TV every day since March last year.

In-Nazzjon leads with proposals by the PN for the enlargement of the Mġarr harbour to cater for higher traffic between the two islands. The party’s policy cluster focusing on Gozo also recommends a new passenger vessel and a cargo vessel for Gozo Channel.

L-Orizzont speaks to the General Workers Union spokesperson for education, Gabriel Pullicino, who said that a report published by the government last week outlined the major obstacles in the schooling system.

The Times questions Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis about a 2019 press conference he addressed, targeting opposition MP Simon Busuttil’s attempt to launch an inquiry into then-secret company 17 Black. The minister said he was following party orders.

The Independent publishes comments to journalists by Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis who defended his record and vowed not to resign. He said that reports about a private chat with businessman Yorgen Fenech reveal nothing new.

In-Nazzjon reports that Opposition Leader Bernard Grech tabled a motion of no confidence in Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis, calling him unfit for the role. The move follows the publication of a WhatsApp exchange between the minister and Yorgen Fenech.

L-Orizzont says that the industrial tribunal awarded compensation of €18,500 to a man who was dismissed from his job for covering a shift for his colleague against company rules. The chairperson of the tribunal said the decision was unjust.

Morning Briefing

Minister Zammit Lewis rejects calls to resign

Despite the barrage of critiscm directed towards Edward Zammit Lewis following revelations that he chatted extensively with Yorgen Fenech via Whatsapp, even mocking political opponents and Labour supporters in the process, the Justice Minister insisted that he would not be resigning his post.

Zammit Lewis said that the comment had to be taken in the context it was said, and refused to apologise for his remarks. “I have been a Labourite since I was in my mother’s womb, I worked and sacrificed my profession and my family, and Labourites know this,” he said. The Minister also insisted that the new chats revealed “nothing new”, adding that “I always declared that I knew Yorgen Fenech, and Bernard Grech, instead of filing a motion, should take a look around him and see which of his MPs were close to Yorgen Fenech”.

PN promises referendum on Gozo tunnel

The Nationalist Party has promised a referendum among Gozitans on the proposed Malta-Gozo tunnel if it is elected to government. Addressing the media, former Minister Chris Said said that once the necessary studies are carried out, a Nationalist government would consult the Gozitan people on the proposed permanent link. The current proposal would lead to the creation of a 13km-long tunnel with a 7-metre radius and one traffic lane heading in either direction, with an additional safety lane.

The PN is also proposing to enlarge the port of Mgarr to meet the needs of passengers and create more parking space, to provide two new ships, one for passengers and one dedicated to cargo; thus introducing a cargo service to the Grand Harbour and to consider air services between the two islands.

Covid-19: Active coronavirus cases declined steadily over the weekend and on Monday. This afternoon, the daily health update indicated 64 new cases with 168 recoveries, meaning there are now 1,609 persons infected with Covid-19. 2,762 swab tests were carried out on Sunday, with the average age of persons returning a positive result standing at 34.