Airport’s revenue drops by almost 70% / Malta News Briefing – Wednesday 5 May 2021

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Times of Malta reports that plans for a suspicious property deal involving former police superintendent Ray Aquilina, construction tycoon Joe Portelli, and murder suspect Yorgen Fenech are being investigated by the police. 

MaltaToday reports that the Court of Criminal Appeal has confirmed a six-year prison sentence handed to a teacher who sexually abused a student for a four-year period between 1992 and 1996.

Newsbook reports that Nexia BT founder and managing partner Brian Tonna said that he was disgusted to learn that the owner of 17 Black was Yorgen Fenech as he continued to testify as Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee reconvenes on Wednesday.

TVM reports that summer will see the start of a regeneration project at the historic Romeo Romano garden in St Venera, which had been set up in this locality by Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena

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Covid-19 Update: 30 new COVID-19 cases were recorded on Wednesday while no new deaths were recorded.  A total of 1,785 swab tests were carried out yesterday. 38 persons recovered, with the active case tally reaching 280.

Airport’s revenue drops by almost 70%: Malta International Airport’s revenue fell by almost 70% due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, CEO Alan Borg told the Times of Malta that the company is hoping for a better half of 2021. The company’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) fell from €63.2 million in 2019 to €5.6 million in 2020.

Vaccination appointments for over 30s: Hundreds spent hours queuing at the University of Malta, as those over 30 became eligible to receive their Covid-19 vaccination. According to the National Statistics Office, there are more people aged between 30 and 40 than there are in any other decade, with 88,901 people in this cohort. The vaccine is being offered in 12 cubicles at the University of Malta, a health ministry spokesperson said.

Newspaper Review

Malta Today quotes a statement by the Office of the President defending George Vella’s track record on environmental issues. The President was criticised for a Facebook post speaking out against a planned development close to his private residence in Żejtun.

Malta Today says that the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit has issued a total of €4.6 million in administrative penalties in 2020. More than a quarter of that amount was imposed on investment firms that failed anti-money laundering checks.

The Times reports on the compilation of evidence against the men charged with the killing of lawyer Carmel Chircop in 2015. The lawyer’s widow told the court that accused Adrian Agius owed her husband €600,000.

L-Orizzont follows the testimony in court of Maryrose Chircop, whose husband Carmel was shot dead in 2015. The widow said that she got to know about the murder from social media while she was with her son.

The Independent says that murdered lawyer Carmel Chircop had tried to recover a debt of hundreds of thousands from suspected killer Adrian Agius. Chircop’s widow, Maryrose, testified in court that her husband had pressed Agius over repayments.

In-Nazzjon quotes PN Leader Bernard Grech who said that the current tax regime puts local businesses at a disadvantage and promised a new taxation system for SMEs that would also raise working conditions.

Malta Today announces a collaboration between St Aloysius College and Vassallo Group to build a sports college in Birkirkara. The development will include classrooms, dormitories and sports facilities including a swimming pool, football pitches, and basketball courts.

L-Orizzont reports that Fondazzjoni Wens, which runs community homes for persons with disabilities, will receive an assistance package of €3.7 million. The agreement was signed by the government and Aġenzija Sapport.

The Independent says that environmental NGOs have raised concern over three separate development applications planning to build 125 apartments in Sannat. The applications share the same architect.

The Times quotes Health Minister Chris Fearne who announced that the government will relax further Covid-19 measures in the coming days as the number of new infections remained stable.

In-Nazzjon says that Health Minister Chris Fearne will likely not launch investigations into reports of inhuman treatment at Mount Carmel hospital. The minister said that the hospital provides ‘exceptional’ care.

Morning Briefing

More Covid measures to be eased soon, restaurants appeal for longer opening hours

Health Minister Chris Fearne revealed that government will be further relaxing Covid-19 measures in the coming days.
Addressing a press event at Mount Carmel Hospital, during which a new ward was opened, the Deputy PM explained: “The number [of new cases] has remained low and so, as things stand, we will be reopening certain sectors as planned on Monday. Then, in the coming days, we will announce more easing of measures”.

Next Monday, restaurants will be allowed to re-open till 5pm. However, the Association of Catering Establishments has appealed to the Government to permit the full opening of restaurants with immediate effect, while it stressed that there is no evidence that restaurants were the cause of the Covid spread.

In a statement, the association stated that the situation for these businesses is becoming more difficult with more establishments reporting their intention to close doors. It added that, apart from the full operation of the establishments, it is also critical that vouchers are distributed to mitigate the financial difficulties of establishments.

PN to propose fairer tax system for SMEs

The Nationalist Party wants a fairer tax system for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), its leader Bernard Grech said. He explained that a new Government led by him wants a fairer tax system, among them since Maltese businessmen are at a disadvantage with those who come to invest from abroad. Asked about the Economic Recovery Plan that the Government had to present to the European Union, he said that he was disappointed how, despite the many empty words, the Nationalist Party was not consulted at any time, a thought which was also reflected in the days gone by by the constituted bodies.

Covid-19 Update
27 new COVID-19 cases were recorded on Tuesday while no new deaths were recorded for the second consecutive day. A total of 1,636 swab tests were carried out the day before. 19 persons recovered, with the active case tally increasing to 288.

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