Malta sees drop in press freedom index
Malta has dropped six places in the World Press Freedom Index, ranking 84th out of 180 countries assessed by Reporters Without Borders. That represents the country’s lowest ranking since the index’s methodology was changed in 2020, when Malta ranked 81st. Comparisons with years prior to that cannot be made due to methodological changes, Reporters Without Borders noted. (Times of Malta)
MDB presents Annual Report 2022
The Malta Development Bank’s various financing schemes have continued to provide an effective mechanism to mobilise private investment, thereby facilitating access to finance, supporting local businesses in their quest for growth and innovation.
The Bank’s Annual Report for 2022, launched in the presence of Minister for Finance and Employment Hon. Clyde Caruana, shares details of how throughout its first five years of operations, the Bank has assisted more than 700 businesses which employ some 40,000 persons, and more than 430 students, by facilitating over €580 million in favourable financing.
Refugee Council finds Malta failed to rescue 7500 persons
Malta’s apparent policy of largely ignoring distress calls by potential asylum seekers have seen it fail to rescue no less than 7,459 people in distress last year, according to statistics compiled for the European Council of Refugees and Exiles (ECRE). During the same period, the country was also accused of being involved in 14 pushbacks – which fall foul of international law – involving a total of 789 people, according to the 2022 country report on Malta prepared as part of the Asylum Information Database (AIDA).
Delays in Kirkop Tunnel announced
The Kirkop Tunnel Project has encountered slight delays due to the inclusion of additional asphalt works which were not included in the original plans, Infrastructure Maltahas said. “The pending works of final asphalt courses in particular areas was slightly delayed due to the inclusion of complementary extents not originally covered in this project, namely parts of the road going to Hal Far and those extending from flyover to Kirkop tunnels,” Infrastructure Malta CEO Ivan Falzon has revealed. (Maltatoday)
Speaker rules no further testimony on Schembri case until Court ruling
Keith Schembri will not have to give any more evidence to a parliamentary committee examining the controversial Electrogas power station contract until a court decides whether his right to a fair hearing was violated. Parliamentary speaker Anglu Farrugia made the ruling on Tuesday following a request by the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. (Times of Malta)
Parliament debates doubling of traffic fines
Parliament on Tuesday started discussing a new proposed law aimed to deter reckless driving and other traffic contraventions. Minister Aaron Farrugia said motorists can anticipate more penalty points being deducted from their licenses and face a greater risk of having their driving licenses suspended, should the government’s new proposal receive parliamentary approval. Where before a fine for mobile phone use while driving stood at €100 and three to six penalty points, new fines doubled the fine to a €200 fine. (Maltatoday)
NAO says families depending on social benefits cannot lead dignified life
Families dependent on non-contributory social benefits are not being provided with sufficient income to lead a dignified life, a National Audit Office (NAO) report found. The study set the minimum annual budget for a two adult and two children family at €15,185 and an augmented minimum annual budget for a decent living at €26,389 a year. However such a family on social benefits has a total disposable income of just €12,478. (Newsbook)