1745- Latest News update
Times of Malta says that Roberta Metsola has been asked to temporarily assume the responsibilities of the president of the EU Parliament as it mourns the death of David Sassoli, days before the end of his term.
MaltaToday says that companies belonging to Nationalist MP David Thake might not be eligible to benefit from the COVID-19 tax deferral scheme, because arrears predate the pandemic and not all annual accounts were filed, tourism minister Clayton Bartolo told the House.
Newsbook says that a 65-year-old man from Santa Venera was seriously injured on Tuesday morning.
TVM says that the amount of money in bank accounts and the last year income of persons who qualify for legal assistance in Court cases increased from €7,000 to €13,000.
Malta News Dispatch
Justice Minister does not rule out support for proposed rule of law reforms:- Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis said that the government will support legislative proposals on corruption and rule of law if they make sense. The Nationalist Party put forward a list of proposals to fight corruption and mafia-style crimes. The package includes the creation of a special inquiring magistrate to focus solely on corruption by public officers and the introduction of a new crime for public officers who abuse office. “I found support from the Nationalist Party in July 2020 for the reforms we put forward. We disagreed in some areas, but on important aspects I found certain support. Certainly, for government, if the proposals make sense there will be support from our side,” Zammit Lewis said.
Pediatricians support vaccine for children aged 5 to 11: The Maltese Paediatric Association has endorsed a government proposal to vaccinate children aged 5 to 11 against Covid-19. Noting its effectiveness and safety, the group said the Covid-19
vaccination is 90% protective against one of the top 10 causes of death in this age group in the US. Paediatricians added that vaccinating children would also be helpful in planning eventual relaxation of in-school protection measures, such as masks and social distancing, as well as a reduction in schooling disruptions and the need for quarantine, all of which have affected children’s well-being. Children of this age group became eligible for the vaccine in mid-December.
Covid-19 update: The number of new Covid-19 cases continued going down to 432, with 868 recoveries. There are 126 patients being treated at Mater Dei hospital, 9 of whom are in the ITU. During the last 24 hours, two men aged 77 and 81 and an 81-year-old woman died while Covid-19 positive, the health authorities said.
Updated 0730 – Archbishop Scicluna touted for top Vatican post – reports
The Malta Independent reveals this morning that Archbishop Charles J Scicluna could be considered for a top Vatican post, particularly within the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. This post, which is one of the highest offices in the Vatican hierarchy, is responsible for promulgating and defending the Christian doctrine. According to Church sources quoted by the same news outlet, Scicluna could be asked by the Pope to take up this position, opening up the vacancy for a new Archbishop for the Maltese diocese.
Malta Airport criticises new vaccine certificate rules
Malta International Airport has taken a position against new vaccine certificate rules due to come into force next week, saying they put an “unnecessary burden” on Maltese residents. From January 17, Government will make vaccine certificates valid for only three months from the second dose, a decision which has already been criticised by the EU – with the latter indicating a preference for nine months.
“Given that Malta is the only Member State which has shortened the validity period of COVID-19 vaccination certificates, the Superintendent of Public Health has imposed an unnecessary hurdle for Maltese residents to travel, together with undermining consumer confidence for the tourism industry during this already very challenging winter period,” the company managing the airport said. “We urge the health authorities to halt the introduction of further unnecessary and haphazard travel restrictions, which go against the spirit of the European Union to facilitate free movement across all European Member States”, it added.
Parliament debates Opposition motion against tax ‘amnesty’
Shadow Finance Minister Mario de Marco launched the PN’s arguments as the parliament began debating the Opposition’s motion against a legal notice allowing those with tax arrears due by January 2021 to pay any tax due on the transfer of property purchased before March 2021 against their arrears. De Marco said that this legal notice had nothing to do with COVID measures and it in practice amounted to an amnesty for those who had not paid tax when due. “The government was forgiving the equivalent of tax due on the sale of property”, he argued, noting how a number of organisations such as the Malta Chamber, the IFSP and the Institute of Accountants had expressed their disapproval to it. Finance Minister Clyde Caruana replied that while the opposition wanted the legal notice repealed, claiming it was discriminatory and benefited defaulters, no one had actually applied to benefit from it. Caruana added that the government was owed €5 billion in tax arrears.
Covid-19 Update: 437 new cases of Covid-19 were reported on Monday by health authorities, while 542 recovered. An 84-year-old female died overnight, taking the death tally up to 489.