Updated 1700 – Newsportal Review
The Times of Malta says that an opposition motion into the building collapse which killed 20-year-old Jean Paul Sofia on December 3 will seek to put the role and actions of public institutions and the rules governing them under public scrutiny.
Maltatoday reports that an Australian family has filed a complaint with Mater Dei Hospital claiming negligence on behalf of Maltese doctors who damaged their baby’s artery while treating the boy for chest infection.
Newsbook reveals that a conference organised by the Authority for the Responsible Use of Cannabis last January came with a €43,587.90 price tag, according to information tabled in Parliament.
The Malta Independent reports that the Malta Driving Instructors Association (MDIA) has raised what is said were several concerns on driving tests, mentioning significant delays in booking driving theory and practical tests, as well as a current vacuum in the position of director at the test centre as the previous director is facing abuse of power charges in court.
New Standards Commissioner needs to reflect on fact there is no consensus on his position – NGO: Former Chief Justice Joseph Azzopardi needs to reflect on whether his nomination as Standards Commissioner without political consensus would weaken public respect and confidence in the office, rule of law group Repubblika said on Tuesday. Parliament nominated Azzopardi for the post on Monday after a vote supported only by Labour MPs. It came after the government changed the law to remove the need for a two-thirds majority. The NGO said that what happened on Monday was a serious attack on democracy. “The PM had changed the rules so that he was the one who chose the person who would judge his behaviour and that of his colleagues, the opposition and persons in positions of trust”, Repubblika added.
PM lambasts magistrates on inquiry delays: Robert Abela has called out magistrates responsible for “unacceptable” delays in concluding inquiries, making an indirect reference to the death of 20-year-old Jean Paul Sofia. Addressing Parliament, the PM noted that, three months after Sofia’s death in a construction site collapse in Corradino, the initial stages of an inquiry into the incident have not yet been concluded. “The procès-verbal is not wrapped up, and nobody has been charged,” Abela said. Sofia’s family has pushed for a public inquiry into his death – a call endorsed by the Opposition PN but which Abela and Labour have so far resisted.
Shadow Finance Minister questions future of Steward’s BOV bank loan: PN MP Jerome Caruana Cilia questioned whether the government would end up paying millions out of pocket as a result of the €36 million loan to Steward Healthcare that it chose to guarantee, or whether Bank of Valletta would be shouldering the loss instead. Addressing Parliament, Caruana Cilia, the Shadow Finance Minister, expressed concern about the prolonged silence on the whole matter, which is also of concern to bank employees. He questioned whether BOV could even afford to write off €36 million, especially after its costly settlement concerning the fraudulent bankruptcy of Italian company Deiulemar.
Parliament votes new Ombudsman, Standards Commissioner
Chief Justice Joseph Azzopardi was voted to become the new Commissioner for Standards in Public Life with a simple majority on Monday. The House also approved – by unanimity – a motion for retired judge Joseph Zammit Mckeon to become Ombudsman. The nomination of the standards commissioner by a simple majority came at the end of weeks of heated debate during which the Opposition accused the government of having changed the goalposts to ensure that its nominee got over the line. Previouysly, the appointment of the standards commissioner had needed a two-thirds parliamentary majority. Government changed the law by introducing an anti-deadlock mechanism after accusing the opposition of blocking agreement. (Times of Malta)
Leaders spat over Standard Commissioner’s role
Opposition Leader Bernard Grech accused the PL government of wanting to ‘take over’ another institution, that of the Office of the Standards Commissioner. Addressing Parliament before the vote for the new Standards Commissioner, Grech said that Abela “does not search for consent and wants to do everything his way.” Grech went on to say that, as more time passes, more people and entities are telling him of the wrong Abela is doing to the country. From his end, PM Robet Abela argued that he was “fully convinced that these roles (Standards Commissioner and Ombudsman) are going to be filled by people who have integrity and are impartial from all aspects”. Abela went on to imply that the outgoing occupants of these two positions (George Hyzler and Anthony Mifsud were ‘controlled’ by persons outside their office. (The Malta Independent/Newsbook)
Retail trade grows at third highest in EU
Between January 2021 and last January Malta had the third largest increase in the volume of retail trade among all the EU countries. A Eurostat report shows that retail trade in Malta increased by 5.7%, while the average rate in the euro zone decreased by 2.3% in the euro area and by 2.2% in the EU compared with January 2022. The highest increases were observed in Slovenia (18.5%), Romania (5.8%) and Malta. (Eurostat/TVM)