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Malta News Briefing – Wednesday 13 January 2021

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Updated 1745- News Briefing updated

Times of Malta reports Gavin Gulia resigned from parliament, minutes after being sworn in as MP

MaltaToday reports that Internet provider Melita suffers cyberattack leading to slowdown in internet connection across the country 

Newsbook reports the government recorded a deficit of €316.3 million in the third quarter of 2020, a period marked by the resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic in Malta.

TVM reports that European Broadcasting Union Director General Noel Curran has stated that PBS has shown public broadcasting is not dead, and as is being demonstrated during this pandemic, is a respected source and one of confidence for audiences.

Updated 1235 – Covid-19 Update

A total of 189 new COVID-19 cases were reported by Health Authorities through 3,405 swab tests. This takes the national case tally to close to 15,000 cases.

107 persons have also recovered, meaning there are currently 2,601 active cases. The death tally stands at 234.

Cabinet refuses pardon to alleged Caruana Galizia hitman

Times of Malta quotes government sources in reporting that a request for a presidential pardon filed by one of the three alleged hitmen in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case has been rejected by Cabinet.

It is understood that Ministers met on Monday and discussed a request for immunity from prosecution made by Vincent Muscat, known as is il-Koħħu. He contineus to deny charges and towards the end of last year had presented a request for pardon in exchange for information about the murder and other major crimes which he has detailed to the police in hours of recorded interviews with investigators.

Although Ministers were asked to provide their opinion on the matter, it is understood that Prime Minister Robert Abela had immediately indicated that he had received legal advice not to approve such pardon.

Malta to get more immigration-related funding

In 2021, the European Agency responsible for asylum, is expected to extend and increase its aid and support to those member states which have been the worst hit by the phenomenon of immigration, by increasing its operations in the processing of national asylum applications.

The European Agency said that it will be allocating 50% of its budget to this aim, to reduce the burden which has been placed on Spain, Cyprus, Malta, Greece and Italy – the five European countries which have received the greatest number of asylum applications.

PN contests Speaker ruling on Muscat

The Opposition is contesting Speaker Anġlu Farrugia’s ruling that parliament’s standards committee cannot summon former prime minister Joseph Muscat for the reason that he is no longer a member of parliament.

In a motion presented today in parliament, Opposition MPs Karol Aquilina and Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici said the ruling rendered the standards committee powerless in the face of individuals accused of obstructing justice and abusing power.

They added that the ruling strengthened impunity reigning within the highest institutions of the country and added their belief that such a situation is causing great harm to the democratic system.

Updated 0830 – Newspaper Review

The Independent reports that the medical association announced an industrial dispute with the Health Ministry over the dismissal of Dr Kenneth Grech from the Covid-19 response team. The association says Dr Grech was redeployed for expressing his medical opinion.

The Times says that Cabinet dismissed a pardon request by Vincent Muscat, one of the men charged with the killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia. The Prime Minister is believed to have cautioned against the pardon, but it is not known whether he abstained in the vote.

Malta Today says that the opposition supports the parliament gender equality bill but will propose a series of amendments at committee stage. Among the changes, the opposition says that third parties should also benefit from the quota mechanism.

In-Nazzjon quotes Opposition Leader Bernard Grech during the parliamentary debate on the gender equality bill who said that quotas on their own are not enough to increase female representation and called for measures to encourage women to seek public office.

L-Orizzont marks one year since the election of Robert Abela as Prime Minister after winning the contest for Labour Party leader. The paper says that his first year was characterised by extraordinary national and international challenges.  

Malta Today says that Gavin Gulia won the casual election in the 7th District to take up the House seat vacated by former minister Edward Scicluna. Gulia said he will resign his chairmanship of the Malta Tourism Authority.

The Independent speaks with Gozo Tourism Association Joe Muscat who expects a more contained Carnival atmosphere this year. He said that bookings for accommodation are still coming in for February, but the numbers are smaller than previous years.

The Times reports that a high unavailability rate for accommodation in Gozo on booking sites suggests that people in Malta are planning to spend Carnival weekend in smaller groups of around six people.

L-Orizzont reports that the General Workers Union declared an industrial dispute with the Court Services Agency over working conditions for drivers, who are being requested to carry out additional duties from those outlined by the collective agreement.

In-Nazzjon says that an 85-year-old man died from Covid-19 on Tuesday, raising the number of victims to 234. There were 240 new infections registered on the same day as active cases now surpass 2,500.

Morning Briefing

Nadur Carnival cancelled

The traditional Nadur carnival will not take place this year, the locality’s council said in a statement. It also said that any advertising appearing online regarding activities being held throughout Carnival weekend was baseless since it did not intend to issue any permits.

The Nadur Carnival has gained massive popularity in recent years with thousands of Maltese youngsters flocking to Gozo to celebrate Carnival in Nadur, particularly at the traditional spontaneous Carnival.

Parliament approves Ombudsman report

The Working Committee of the Chamber of Deputies has unanimously approved the report presented by Parliamentary Ombudsman, Charles Mifsud. In his report, Mifsud referred to changes in the law which strengthened the role of the same Ombudsman and facilitates regulation on the manner.

He noted that the Amendments approved had fulfilled the recommendations of the Venice Commission but lamented his office had not been consulted about the Amendments. However, he had held discussions with the Venice Commission

Reacting to such comments, Opposition Deputy Leader David Agius said the Opposition is ready to consider any Legal Amendments suggested by the Ombudsman.

Covid-19 Update
The Health Department reported 240 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, with 80 recovering. The number of active cases has reached 2519. 3354 swab tests were carried out in the past 24 hours.
Meanwhile, the number of deaths linked to Covid-19 has reached 234.

Gavin Gulia elected in casual election
Gavin Gulia will be making his way back in Parliament after being elected from a casual election on the 7th district. The election took place following the resignation of former Finance Minister Edward Scicluna.

CDE News

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