Updated 1745- News Portal briefing
Times of Malta reports that a €274 million contract to build and operate residential blocks and a kitchen at a home for the elderly has been slammed by the auditor general, who found the entire deal could be deemed invalid.
MaltaToday reports that operators in the tourism industry have been excempt from paying any licenses and fees due to the Malta Tourism Authroity for all of 2021, tourism minister Clayton Bartolo announced today.
Newsbook reports that Nexia BT founder and managing partner Brian Tonna insisted that the Panama companies which ended up in the hands of Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi – as well as Egrant – had not been acquired with any specific intent in mind as he continued his testimony in front of Parliament’s Public Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
TVM reports that a 55-year-old man from Balzan is in danger of dying after a fire broke out at a house in Birkirkara.
Active coronavirus cases have declined below 374, the lowest for a number of months, after 15 cases were reported on Wednesday afternoon. 41 persons recovered. A total of 1,690 swab tests were taken yesterday.
Till yesterday, 323,024 doses of the anti-Covid vaccine were given, 103,882 of which were second doses.
No deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours.
Former Superintendent arrested on alleged Caruana Galizia leaks
Former Economic Crimes Unit superintendent Ray Aquilina has been arrested in connection with alleged leaks from the investigation in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.
Media reports, first carried by The Times of Malta, said that Aquilina was taken in for police questioning along with a number of others believed to have played a part in giving out secret information to players involved in the 2017 assassination of the journalist.
The interrogations are taking place at the Financial Crimes Investigation Department in Santa Venera.
The Times says that the Asset Recovery Bureau is without a CEO four months after the last one resigned to take up another post. The body is responsible for the confiscation and administration of criminals’ assets.
L-Orizzont leads with the announcement by Prime Minister Robert Abela of a €20 million aid package for businesses. The fund is structured into assistance for rent and electricity bills as well as direct support to businesses that will remain closed after May 10.
Malta Today says that the government is offering grants of up to €50,000 and additional tax credits to boost investment in areas of businesses that are in line with the priorities of the European Green Deal.
The Times follows a press conference addressed by the Prime Minister who said that, by the end of April, the government will have issued around €455 million in Covid-related financial assistance to business related to the pandemic.
The Independent quotes Enterprise Minister Miriam Dalli who explained the latest round of business aid schemes as a mix of direct support measures for companies and incentives for business development.
In-Nazzjon covers a meeting between the PN and the Employers Association on Tuesday. PN Leader Bernard Grech said that both employers and employees are part of the solution for Malta’s economic recovery.
Malta Today reveals that Wasteserv has been ordered by the Environment and Resources Authority to submit a new Environmental Impact Assessment report for its incinerator project following concerns raised by ADPN chairman Carmel Cacopardo.
The Independent asks the Prime Minister about the ongoing debate regarding the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life following criticism by MPs on the government benches. Robert Abela questioned whether the Office should be held by a former MP.
L-Orizzont says that workers with security company G4S that serve at the airport have chosen to be represented by the General Workers Union. The union’s head of sector said the result is recognition of the commitment shown by the GWU during the pandemic.
In-Nazzjon quotes a statement by the federation of English language schools criticising the decision by authorities to keep the industry closed. The federation said that the situation is putting Malta at a disadvantage against competitors.
948 persons fined for Covid breaches
948 persons were fined in the past eight days by local enforcement authorities, including LESA, Transport Malta and the Police after breaching regulations against Coronavirus. Figures published by Government show that 634 persons were fined for not wearing a mask in a public place; while 275 others were fined for gatherings in numbers not permitted by law.
Enforcement officers also fined 31 persons who were in larger groups in private homes and an establishment was found breaching the regulations.
Seven persons were found breaching quarantine regulations during the thousands of inspections.
Business cannot depend on short term measures only – PN
The Nationalist Party argued that Maltese businesses need a long-term recovery plan. In a statement in a reaction to the assistance package for businesses announced by the Government, Opposition spokesman for Finance Mario De Marco said that whilst the Opposition is always in favour of more assistance in favour of regeneration of the economy, and this assistance is an important step in this direction, the country and businesses cannot continue to depend on short-term measures, but rather, need incentives to help to stimulate consumers, spur investment and incentivise growth.
The PN added it should be ensured that the businesses that suffered most during the past 14 months, and which still have their operations restricted during these weeks, are given the necessary help to stop them from closing down.
The Opposition was reacting to new schemes announced by Government yesterday, whereby an additional €20 million in aid will be made available to businesses, along tax credits of €78 million to help businesses regenerate themselves and kickstart the road to economic recovery.
Schemes will also be made available to businesses that remodel in a way which is sustainable, digital and environmentally friendly, while other incentives will be given to those businesses that have to remain closed after 10 May.
Covid-19 cases reached 45 on Tuesday. with 67 new recoveries. The number of active cases has gone down to 400. A total of 1,512 swab tests were taken the day before, while no new deaths were registered.