The Police and Opposition in Malta asked to investigate EP election bribe allegations

An Opposition Maltese MP is asking the Nationalist Party  to start an internal investigation to establish who within the Nationalist Party tried to get along with Yorgen Fenech, who is being accused as the mastermind behind the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, to ensure that candidate David Casa is not re-elected to the European Parliament.

Nationalist MP David Thake is also appealing to the Maltese police to investigate corrupt electoral practices in connection with this case.

Last Wednesday, during a testimony in Court, Melvin Theuma who was granted a presidential pardon said that Yorgen Fenech was angry at David Casa because of his specific interest into the secret company 17 Black registered Dubai owned by Fenech. According to Theuma, Yorgen Fenech offered €50,000 to the Nationalist Party to ensure that David Casa is not elected in the European Parliament elections.

The Nationalist Party has denied these allegations. The Party said it never had any offer, let alone, it received payments to undermine any of the nationalist candidates.

In a reaction to these latest developments, MEP David Casa declared that the attempts to silence him had clearly failed.


Source: medNews

Malta, Labour Party’s deputy leader resigns

Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela confirmed that former minister Chris Cardona has resigned from deputy leader of the Labour Party. According to the party’s statute, Chris Cardona will stay on until his replacement is chosen in a general conference expected to take place in July.
When Court testimony first implicated Cardona in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Abela stated that he knew Cardona would do the right thing for the party, limiting himself to hint that the former minister should resign. But Cardona, who has denied the claims, refused to resign, and on Tuesday, Abela revealed that he had formally asked for Cardona’s resignation.
News of Cardona’s resignation did not follow, until Abela confirmed that Cardona’s resignation letter had arrived on Wednesday morning.

Source: medNews

Maltese PM asked his deputy to resign

The Maltese Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party Robert Abela has asked his Deputy Leader Chris Cardona to resign from his post in the wake of the new details which emerged relating to the assassination of maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia during criminal proceedings that took place on Monday.
Abela confirmed this new development following a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
Cardona whose name was mentioned multiple times during criminal proceedings in connection to the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, was not appointed as minister when Robert Abela became Prime Minister. He subsequently resigned from Parliament in April. Upon his appointment in January as Prime Minister, Robert Abela had not assigned a ministry to Cardona. In the previous administration led by former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, he occupied the post of Economy Minister.
Prime Minister Abela said that he had communicated his wish to Cardona that he would no longer remain Deputy Leader for Labour Party Affairs. Abela said that Cardona is set to resign. Partit Laburista will then kick off a deputy leader contest.
During the criminal proceedings against murder suspect Yorgen Fenech, a witness testified under oath that Melvin Theuma who was granted a presidential pardon, had been ordered to murder Caruana Galizia by former Chief of Staff at the Office of the Prime Minister Keith Schembri and Jurgen Fenech.
The former Economy Minister is alleged to have paid for Caruana Galizia’s murder, using his canvasser as his middleman with Alfred Degiorgio, one of the three suspected hitmen. Cardona has denied the claims made under oath dismissing them as “nonsense”. Daphne Caruana Galizia wrote in her blog about Cardona’s alleged visit to a brothel in Germany while on government business.
Prior to Fenech’s arraignment, Cardona was taken to the Police Headquarters for questioning in November 2019. The former Economy Minister has denied claims that he was connected to the murder.


Source: medNews

Malta, ex-police commissioner under criminal investigation

The judiciary in Malta has launched an immediate criminal investigation against former Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar over his potential involvement in leaks connected to the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The request to the Court asking it to consider ordering the Police to investigate Cutajar for breaching the Criminal Code and the Police Act was made by lawyer Jason Azzopardi who is appearing for the Caruana Galizia family. Azzopardi, is also the Opposition Spokesperson for Justice. His request came at the end of a nine-hour sitting in the compilation of evidence against murder suspect Yorgen Fenech who stands accused of being an accomplice in the assassination plot of the journalist killed on 16 October 2017.
Fenech’s legal team agreed to the proposal put forward by Azzopardi.
Johann Cremona who was Fenech’s business partner testified under oath that Melvin Theuma, who was granted the presidential pardon, had been allegedly informed by Lawrence Cutajar that Europol were aware of the conversation recordings he had with Fenech. Cremona also said that Cutajar had asked Theuma whether he could listen to them before the latter’s arrest.
In court, Cremona said that Theuma had been informed that he was subject to a money-laundering investigation by the former police commissioner himself.
Lawrence Cutajar who had come under fire several times during his tenure with the Nationalist Opposition and the civil society demanding his resignation, resigned from his post when Robert Abela was appointed as Prime Minister. He was later awarded a consultancy job from which he has been recently suspended until facts are “clarified”. Late on Monday evening, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced that it had terminated Cutajar’s consultation job within its ministry with immediate effect. The Ministry said that the consultation job was already suspended following “allegations” which were made in court in reference to statements made under oath. The Ministry said that decision was taken in view of the latest developments in court.
Photo by Roderick Agius

Source: medNews

Malta, flights to Northern Italy still postponed

Malta will open its ports and airport to Italy from July 1, excluding those in the northern part of the country. This was confirmed by the Prime Minister of Malta Robert Abela during an inteview on the Labour Party radio station.
Abela also announced that as from today the public health emergency will be declared over.
Regarding the re-opening of the Malta International Airport Prime Minister Abela said that the Maltese government is continuously monitoring the situation abroad and has recently decided to remove Israel from the Summer schedule of the Malta International Airport but certain airports in Italy, France and Spain will be included. All of France apart from one region will be included; the same will apply for Spain. The Maltese authorities have added three more countries to its safe flight lists; Poland, Croatia and Greece. Direct flights for 19 other countries or regions that are also included in the safe travel list were announced some weeks ago: Iceland, Slovakia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Israel, Latvia, Norway, Switzerland, Estonia, Denmark, Hungary, Austria, Luxembourg, Germany, Czech Republic, Ireland, and Finland.
The Malta International Airport announced that six airlines will be offering direct connections to 17 airports in nine countries and regions, including Sicily, Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg, for the period between July and October.
Malta registered a total of 649 positive cases of coronavirus till today. 603 patients have recovered, 37 are still active and 9 patients lost their life.


Source: medNews

Malta, migrants threatened to explode a vessel and to attack its crew

The Police in Malta are investigating reports that a group of migrants used knives to threaten the crew of a maltese registered tourist boat outside the Maltese territorial waters and to explode the boat. The Maltese Prime Minister Robert revealed that members of the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) were ready to board four vessels with around 425 migrants however, but he was against this decision so as not to put their lives in danger. “The migrants on board the vessels started protesting and the situation onboard became more difficult when the migrants used knives and threatened the crew they would explode the Europa II vessel.” A magisterial inquiry is underway and in the last hours, crew members appeared in court to testify about the events that took place. Only three EU countries – France, Luxembourg and Portugal – declared their committment with the European Union to take some of these migrants who were permitted entry to Malta after 40 days out at sea. Meanwhile, the European Commission informed the Maltese government that it does not qualify for financial assistance to cover the expenses related to this mission. In view of the migration crises Malta is facing, the present situation created anger amongst the Maltese towards the European Union. Several protests against the arrival of migrants and lack of action and assistance from the EU were organised in Valletta. Another protest took place infront of the parliament building to protect migrants and against racism.


Source: medNews

Maltese PM announces a new financial package of €900 million to businesses and families

Maltese PM announces a new financial package of €900 million to businesses and families An extension of the wage supplement until September, a €100 voucher for each Malta resident over 16 years, lower taxes on the sale of property and cut in fuel prices are among the measures announced by the Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela on Monday evening.
The financial package will cost the government some €900 million which it intends to recoup through local bond issues.
Robert Abela who was announcing a new set of economic incentives to address the impact of COVID-19, defended the government’s decision not to seek a lockdown, stating that it would have brought Malta’s economy to a standstill. Instead, he argued, Malta is now in a position to recover.
The Maltese Prime Minister added that although people who had other sources of incomes were not eligible for wage supplements, this has been changed for pensioners and students on a stipend.
He also announced that businesses can receive a maximum of €2,500 to cover rents between July and September, with a budgetary allocation of €50 million. Government will subidise the electricty and water bills for July, August and September to those commercial entities who were hit hard by the pandemic.
The government is seeking to boost the construction industry – which Abela said “kept the economy running” during the pandemic. Stamp duty will be reduced from 5% to 1.5% on buyers, and from 8% to 5% on sellers, for property values up to €400,000.
The government will be giving €100 in vouchers to every resident of Malta aged over 16. €80 can be used in hotels, restaurants and bars, while the remaining €20 can be used in shops that were closed during the pandemic. The Minister for the Economy, Silvio Schembri noted that last year, the Maltese spent as much on internal tourism in a year, as they did on overseas tourism in just a month – around €50 million. With this in mind, the government felt that it was important to give a boost to internal tourism.
Fuel prices are being cut by 7c per litre. As from next Monday a litre of petrol will cost €1.34, while a litre of diesel will set you back €1.21.
The Finance Minister Edward Scicluna noted that the Maltese government had already implemented a "generous" Budget for 2020 before the pandemic took hold. Malta’s economy was dealt a strong blow, but remained afloat, he said.
The Maltese government is predicting that its deficit will reach 7% of the GDP this year.
He added that the economic impact of the pandemic brought three main threats: a drop in demand, a disruption to supply, and a fall in consumption as people stayed home, away from shops.
A total of 5,700 families have benefited from a moratorium on loan repayments.
Couples who had to cancel their wedding as a result of the pandemic may receive a refund on any deposit payments they may have made, up to a maximum of €2,000 per couple.
In-work benefits, aimed at low-income parents, are being boosted, by €50 per child for single parents, €80 per child for couples with one working parents, and €100 per child for a working couple. Families who receive the in-work benefit will also receive an additional €250.
€3 million are being allocated to assist voluntary organisations to make up for the loss of donations and fundraising activities. €2 million are to be allocated to homes for the elderly, to make up for the expenses incurred to deal with the pandemic.

Since local businesses could not make full use of the trade licences they paid for this year, the government will be refunding licences for this year, at a cost of €5 million.
Tax credits which businesses can benefit from, through a Malta Enterprise scheme will be partly converted to grants. Businesses in Malta may receive up to €2,000, those in Gozo up to €2,500.
Companies that wish to change or update their business model to address present and future challenges may receive up to €5,000 to help them do so through a Malta Enterprise scheme.
Another Malta Enterprise scheme, the Skills Development Scheme, will be allocated an additional €5 million to help companies carry out inhouse training.
Since the pandemic disrupted the transport service, port tariffs will be reduced by a third for 6 months.
Companies seeking to launch digital promotional campaigns to export their products will receive up to €10,000 – covering half their costs – from Trade Malta. Trade Malta will also refund 80% of the cost companies may have incurred to participate in overseas trade fairs that have been cancelled due to the pandemic.
€10 million are being allocated to an export credit guarantee, to help cover risks for companies seeking to expand into African or Latin American markets.
Companies within the construction sector may receive up to €200,000 to upgrade their machinery, with government allocating €4 million to this initiative.

Source: medNews

425 migrants entered Malta after weeks outside its territorial waters

After hours of delicate negotiations, late Saturday evening, the Maltese Government declared that Malta gave the permission to 425 migrants on board four ferries to berth in Malta.  The government said that the decision had been taken after the situation on board the boats had become very difficult and very tense.

The Maltese government stated that it was not ready to put the lives of the crew, including Maltese persons who worked with migrants in danger because of the lack of action and solidarity from the EU member states. The government also said that there are ongoing negotiations for relocation and declared that the asylum-seeking process for those who so qualified was to be speeded up. Those who do not qualify would be repatriated, added the statement issued by the Maltese government.

The Maltese government said that while Malta still honoured its international obligations, it is still resolute in its path to work with Libya whom, the Maltese government said, is the effective solution to the problem of human trafficking. The Maltese government said that in the past few days, such co-operation had pushed back into Libya over 1,500 migrants “who could easily have reached Malta.”

The Maltese government was highly criticized by the European Union, the Council of Europe and various non-governmental organisations for leaving the migrants out at sea despite the bad weather conditions. The European Union asked the Maltese government to let the disembarkation of all migrants before starting the negotiations on the reallocation to other EU countries.

Source: medNews

Half of Air Malta’s pilots are laid off

The Maltese national airline, Air Malta has announced that it has fired 69 pilots as they are considered redundant by the company. Air Malta confirmed that talks with the pilots union, ALPA, had failed.
The Maltese Government requested the pilots to follow the agreement reached with the cabin crew union, but the pilot’s union did not accept the proposed agreement offered by Air Malta.
Air Malta claimed that as the company’s revenue fell sharply with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the airline had no choice but to make half of its pilots redundant.
The airline also claimed that although other unions representing various workers within the company understood the need to accept the changes, according to Air Malta, ALPA was making unreasonable demands. ALPA had demanded that its members start receiving half the salary but this was unacceptable to Air Malta.
The Government in a statement said that the position taken by ALPA led to "decisions that were not desirable but necessary". The government also said that ALPA’s request for an early retirement scheme would cost €73 million, an average of €700,000 per pilot.
The Ministry for the Economy also stated that the national airline “held several long meetings with the Pilots’
Union in order to safeguard its sustainability and viability”. The Minister for the Economy responsible for Air Malta, Silvio Schembri, said that “ALPA’s actions tried to stifle Airmalta’s operation as the requests made were unreasonable at a time when the airline’s financial income decreased substanially due to the Covid-19 pandemic”.
Commercial flights from Malta International airport are due to restart on July, 1. Air Malta is expected to operate only five aircrafts of its fleet until summer 2021.

Source: medNews

Salini Impregilo submitted application to build Malta-Gozo tunnel

The Italian industrial group Salini Impregilo, specialising in the construction and civil engineering business, is among the companies that showed interest in the tunnel project between Malta and Gozo. Salini Impreglio is also involved in the Genoa bridge project replacing the previous bridge which collapsed in August 2018. Salini Impregilo is based in Milan, and is considered as the largest Italian engineering and general contractor group and a global player in the construction sector. It is active in over 50 countries with 35,000 employees.

Four bidders have participated in the pre-qualification questionnaire for the design, building, financing, operation and maintenance of the Malta-Gozo tunnel. The call for participation in a pre-qualification questionnaire which was issued by Infrastructure Malta last January, closed on Thursday.

The tunnel between Malta and Gozo is expected to be 14 kilometres long and will be partially subsea, with one lane in each direction and another in the middle in cases of emergency.

Maltese Transport Minister Ian Borg and Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri explained that the tunnel is expected to start from Xemxija and should end in an arterial road in Gozo. Frederick Azzopardi from Infrastructure Malta said that the reason why there is no specific location in Gozo where the permanent link must end is that Gozo’s arterial roads can cater for the volume of this project.

Following the evaluation of this questionnaire, a discussion will commence with respect bidders to plan for the implementation of the project by the chosen bidders.

Other offers included companies from Turkey, France and Japan.

Minister Camilleri said that the permanent link will mean that Gozitans can be more optimistic about accessing any opportunity, equal to any other Maltese citizen. He also said that this project will ensure the rebirth of the social and economic spheres of the island.

Last February, the Malta Chamber of Commerce asked the government to reconsider the investment for the tunnel between Malta and Gozo. However, the Gozo Business Chamber is not aligned with this recommendation and emphasised that the tunnel between the two islands has the potential to provide the most cost-effective connectivity option.


Source: medNews

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