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Inflation exceeds 2% as food prices push index higher / Malta News Briefing – Wednesday 22 September 2021

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Latest Update- News Portal Briefing

Times of Malta says that nineteen countries have been added to Malta’s so-called travel red list.

MaltaToday reports that a group of local architects and engineers have released an afforestation proposal for the Maltese islands, proposal, outlining the concept of planting of indigenous trees in a series of designated sites in Malta and Gozo.

Newsbook reports the Criminal Court of Appeal has partially upheld a request to expunge references made to phone-tapping by Police Superintendent Keith Arnaud when he testified before the Court of Magistrates in its Criminal Judicature.

TVM says that the Police have managed to break another organised crime ring of foreign nationals who were carrying out pickpocketing in Malta.

Updated 1230

Trade deficit widens further: Malta’s trade deficit has widened to €382.7 million in the year’s second quarter, provisional figures have indicated . This reflects an increase of €55 million over the same period last year.  This deficit was primarily the result of negative net balances
recorded in the goods account (€665.2 million), the primary income account (€333.7 million) and the secondary income account (€43.5 million). This was partly offset by a positive net balance of €659.6 million recorded in the services account.

Covid-19 Update Active Covid-19 cases declined further as 18 new cases were reported on Wednesday, while 49 patients recovered. 523 persons remain infected with the virus, 23 requiring hospitalisation.

Updated 1200

Inflation exceeds 2% as food pushes index higher: The annual inflation rate has gone over the 2% threshold for the first time in more than two years, reaching 2.08%, up from the 1.81 per cent in  July 2021. The 12-month moving average rate for August stood at 0.78%. The NSO said that once again, the largest upward impact on annual inflation was measured in the Food Index.

Pope visit touted for Dec 4: Times of Malta reveals that Malta has told the Vatican that December is the ideal window for Pope Francis to visit the country. Quoting Government sources, the report says that the Holy See had suggested a number of dates for an upcoming papal visit and asked for the government’s preference, with authorities seemingly recommending December 4.

Malta’s R-factor below 1: The R-Factor in Malta has gone down below 1 over the past days, following a small increase to 1.1 in August, as a higher case load took its toll. Speaking to The Times of Malta, Health Superintendent Prof Charmaine Gauci said that the COVID-19 detection rate has been consistent for a while, with very little changes. She revealed that most of the recent Covid-related deaths affected vaccinated persons, insisting that had we had fewer people vaccinated, we would have had a higher proportion of our population at higher risk of death. She quoted the latest Public Health England estimates which indicated that the vaccination programme has directly averted over 230,800 hospitalisations.

Malta-Gozo tunnel bidding process controversy: Two bidders who were eliminated from the bidding process for the Malta-Gozo tunnel project have filed objections after a single bidder was shortlisted to design and build the tunnel, insisting that they were fully compliant with the requirements of the pre-qualification questionnaire. The objecting bidders are Malta Gozo Fixed Link and CGYI Malta Gozo Consortium TID. Last month, the Times of Malta had reported that the only bidder to make it past the first hurdle is a consortium made up of five companies, these being UK’s Equitix, Japanese company Itochu, Turkish companies Yapi Merkezi and Makyol, and French company Egis.

Updated 0900 – Newspaper Review

Malta Today says that two bidders for the Gozo tunnel filed objections after authorities shortlisted one competing consortium. One bidder said the selection process did not adhere to its own criteria while another raised concerns about typographic errors.  

L-Orizzont quotes Archbishop Charles Scicluna that Malta is suffering from ‘a disease of greed’. He was delivering his homily in the state service at St John’s Co-Cathedral on the occasion of Independence Day.

The Times says that the archbishop used his homily on Independence Day to warn about the effects of money and power. Scicluna asked whether it is necessary to degrade the country’s beauty for profit.

In-Nazzjon follows a message by Archbishop Scicluna thanking the state for prioritising social welfare in the last six decades since Independence. He, however, warned about the consequences of financial greed taking root is society today.

The Independent says that the PN is considering the best electoral districts for Adrian Delia to contest. Sources told the newspaper that the former party leader may contest the 7th District or one in the southern part of Malta.

The Times reports that the government is studying a proposal by the Local Councils’ Association to stop door-to-door waste collection and introduce a drop-off point system instead. This change would be expected to take place over a decade.

The Independent speaks to a Transport Malta spokesperson who expressed confidence that the number of public transport trips will register an increase in 2022. The official said that the pandemic caused a decrease in passengers after record years until 2019.

Malta Today says that Pope Francis is expected to visit Malta in the first week of December, but the exact dates have yet to be confirmed. The journey will be part of a multi-country tour by the Pontiff that includes Greece and Cyprus.

L-Orizzont reports that a man was awarded €8.000 following his dismissal as a security officer in June. An inspection by the company found him asleep and without his uniform during a night shift before giving him the sack.

In-Nazzjon reports on the official celebrations of Independence Day, marking the 57th anniversary on Tuesday. State authorities laid wreaths at the foot of the Independence monument in Floriana. 

Morning Briefing

Malta-Gozo tunnel bidding process controversy

Two bidders who were eliminated from the bidding process for the Malta-Gozo tunnel project have filed objections after a single bidder was shortlisted to design and build the tunnel, insisting that they were fully compliant with the requirements of the pre-qualification questionnaire. The objecting bidders are Malta Gozo Fixed Link and CGYI Malta Gozo Consortium TID. Last month, the Times of Malta had reported that the only bidder to make it past the first hurdle is a consortium made up of five companies, these being UK’s Equitix, Japanese company Itochu, Turkish companies Yapi Merkezi and Makyol, and French company Egis.

Tourism industry positive about Winter

Winter tourism is looking promising, with airlines reporting solid bookings for October and giving positive indications for the following months Malta Hotels and Restaurant Association, Tony Zahra, has been quoted as saying. Airlines had received at least 60 per cent of the bookings they took during the same period in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit for October and November, which is being considered as positive.

“Airlines are saying winter is looking good, too, but since bookings, as a result of the pandemic, are last minute, which is the new trend, we can only talk about indications for November and December.”

Society plagued by greed – Archbishop

Archbishop Charles J Scicluna said that the greed for money, for easy mones was also destroying the moral backbone of our country. In a scathing homily, he insisted that if we are to celebrate our independence and the liberation of our country from all colonial and military conditioning, we need to stop and wonder whether we have fallen into some form of bondage, the slavery of our own thirst for power and for money.

Several media outlets reporting this item experienced a number of hate speech comments directed towards Scicluna on their social media outlets.

Covid-19 Update
A 91-year-old woman died while being positive to COVID-19 overnight bringing the number of coronavirus-positive deaths up to 456, the health authorities said on Tuesday. Meanwhile, a further 24 people tested positive for the virus, while another 43 recovered.

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