GRECO reprimands Malta on lack of anti-corruption policy / Malta News Briefing – Tuesday 24 May 2022

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Times of Malta says Frank Portelli insisted there were never any organs or other human remains stored at St Philip’s hospital, and blamed vandals harbouring “political vindictiveness” for the shocking state of the abandoned building.

MaltaToday says members of the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee noted that Malta’s slow judicial process was still of concern during a meeting with Prime Minister Robert Abela on Tuesday afternoon.

Newsbook says government has agreed to allow the Opposition to decide which report the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) should discuss first, with the probe into the report by the National Audit Office (NAO) on the Electrogas deal set to continue into the new legislature.

TVM says the compilation of evidence resumed at the Gozo Court this morning against 24-year old Syrian Maher Aljasem who is charged with the murder of another Syrian, Fawez Najem.

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GRECO reprimands Malta on lack of anti-corruption policy: Malta has yet to implement an overall anti-corruption policy, as suggested by the anti-corruption authority GRECO. The anti-corruption body of the Council of Europe stated the approach should be based on a risk assessment of government and high executive personnel, but that this had not yet been done. Only two of the 23 recommendations were deemed to have been properly completed, with 12 being partially implemented and nine being unimplemented. GRECO, also insisted the number of “persons of trust” in government appointments are kept to a bare minimum, and for these posts to be subject to the same integrity criteria and oversight as other relevant persons.

Fisheries junior minister was backed by industry big fish: Fisheries junior minister received large donations from the sector before she was appointed, the Times of Malta reported. Alicia Bugeja Said received a €1,200 donation from industry giants Azzopardi Fisheries, another €2,500 from fish farm operators Malta Fish Farming and €2,500 from fish sellers Frutti Di Mare. With a total declared spend of €15,945 during the election campaign, the donations from the fisheries industry amounted to over one-third of Bugeja Said’s campaign war chest. The junior minister for fisheries also received €1,400 from events organisers Nexos Lighting and €1,800 from St Catherine’s Caterers. (Times of Malta)

Food prices rose at its steepest: The annual rate of inflation in April rose at its steepest in months as a result of food prices, official figures issued on Tuesday show. The annual rate of inflation in April was 5.67%, up from 4.43% a month before.  The largest upward impact on annual inflation was measured in the food index (+1.98%) the National Statistics Office said, confirming what shoppers have been saying for weeks.

Morning Briefing

Steward Healthcare calls on Govt to comply on hospitals agreement

Steward Healthcare claims the government has broken new promises on the operation of three public hospitals. It stated the government’s failure to achieve a consensus was to the Maltese people’s harm in a stern statement. The US healthcare company rebutted statements made last week by Health Minister Chris Fearne, who told parliament that Steward was entirely bound by the terms of the original contract between Vitals and the government. Fearne told fellow MPs that concessionaires would naturally seek better terms, but that once Steward had completely taken over the Vitals concession, it was obliged to follow the contract terms. (Times of Malta)

Interconnector Energy rates skyrocket

Over the winter, interconnector rates skyrocketed, with Malta paying twice as much for energy imports via the interconnector as it did for power from Electrogas. In response to a parliamentary inquiry from PN MP Mark Anthony Sammut, Electricity Minister Miriam Dalli provided a breakdown of Malta’s energy expenditures. The average price of electricity from the interconnector has risen to €258.25 per megawatt, according to Dalli. In the meanwhile, Electrogas’ average power price per megawatt is €85.81.

Covid-19 Update: Health authorities reported 67 new cases on Monday, while one more fatality was registered. The number of active cases is now 1,759 after 142 patients recovered overnight.

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