Intensive efforts to get off FATF grey-list: Finance Minister/ Malta News Briefing – Wednesday 20 October 2021

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Times of Malta says the uproar during a hearing in a libel suit instituted by minister Owen Bonnici against Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi caused a court sitting to come to an abrupt end on Wednesday.

MaltaToday reports that MPs from both sides of the House bickered on Wednesday over Konrad Mizzi’s no-show in front of the Public Accounts Committee.

Newsbook reports that the national broadcaster, PBS, ignored a press conference Opposition Leader Bernard Grech gave in response to Prime Minister Robert Abela’s speech on the budget, the Nationalist Party said in a formal complaint to the Broadcasting Authority, demanding a remedy.

TVM says that Finance Minister Clyde Caruana said that the Government has submitted the Budget for next year for the approval of the European Commission.

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Covid-19 Update: 20 new COVID cases were reported by health authorities while 30 recovered, leaving the active case tally at 262. 14 people are hospitalised, three of whom are in the ITU.

Intensive efforts to get off FATF grey-list: Finance Minister

Finance Minister Clyde Caruana told The Times of Malta that the government has launched intensive efforts and is undergoing discussions with the FATF board and bilateral countries to ensure we get off the grey list. He was reacting to questions related to a survey which showed a dramtic collapse in the island’s attractiveness to foreign investors has reached an all-time low.
“I understand the outcome of the survey. It is a result that was undoubtedly influenced by recent events such as the greylisting,” he said. Caruana refused to commit to a date by which Malta would be taken off the list: “We are doing our utmost so that Malta is taken off the grey list in the shortest possible time,” he added.

Konrad Mizzi not to attend PAC after all: Independent MP Konrad Mizzi had a change of heart regarding attending the PAC meeting to answer questions on the Electrogas deal. On Facebook, Mizzi said his lawyer is not available for this afternoon’s PAC meeting and so will not be attending but insists he will be testifying in the future.

PN Leader brands budget as fake, PM as irresponsible: Opposition leader Bernard Grech described last week’s budget as fake and branded PM Robert Abela as “irresponsible” for putting aside the national interest when letting uncertainty loom over an early election. Reacting to the PM’s speech in Parliament, Grech said that “the budget is fake since the Prime Minister put up partisan billboards all over the island despite knowing he is going for an early election. This confirms that this budget only caters for today, and fears for tomorrow.” Grech argued that the Prime Minister ignored the most pressing issues facing the country, particularly its reputation and competitiveness, quoting the results of a survey published earlier in the day which had shown how Malta’s investment attractiveness had gone down by 40% in the past two years.

Morning Briefing

PM says up to electorate to decide if Budget 2022 is to be implemented or not

PM Robert Abela said that Budget 2022 confirmed Labour’s social credentials, with a raft of measures intended to protect vulnerable sectors of society. “We did not impose any new taxes or burdens, and we showed we are the movement of ideas and of the future, where Malta will be an example of dynamism, sustainability and fairness,” he said, adding that ‘a new prosperity’ was being built in the country.
Hinting that an election was close, he argued that it was up to the public to decide whether to renew its trust in the current administration to ensure that the proposed measures are in fact implemented.

Abela rejected claims of financial mismanagement saying that “half of the deficit was spending on public health. Would it have made sense that in the middle of a global health crisis to get cheap with people’s health? That’s what you’d have done – like you did in the past. We will continue to invest,” Abela re-iterated.

The prime minister said that the environment was a key priority for Government, noting that sustainability and economic growth should not necessarily be at odds. However, he admitted that higher standards were needed. “Those who thought they were above the law would see the law applied to them”, he added.

On the subject of grey-listing, Abela said that despite Malta’s predicament, foreign companies were continuing to invest in Malta saying that 27 financial services and gaming companies applied for a licence in the past months. Still, the government was working tirelessly to implement the action plan agreed with the FATF and thus convince Malta’s international counterparts that this country was against money laundering.

Konrad Mizzi to attend PAC meeting

Independent MP Konrad Mizzi has finally agreed to appear before the Public Accounts Committee after twice refusing to respond to questions about his role in the controversial Electrogas power station project. Mizzi was reacting to a motion filed by PN MPs seeking a vote in Parliament asking Mizzi to appear. Writing on Facebook, Mizzi said that he would be attending the meeting solely “not to let the nationalists disrupt the government’s work and the Prime Minister’s speech”. The former Labour Deputy leader and Minister, now an Independent MP, said that the PN motion was nothing but an attempt to deviate attention from the Prime Minister about the 2022 Budget.

Covid-19 Update: 22 new COVID cases were reported by health authorities who on Tuesday said a further 21 people recovered. 13 people are hospitalised, 2 of whom are in the ITU.

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