Tag Archives: Top News

Pope Francis to visit Malta in early April

LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Pope Francis is expected to pay a pastoral visit in Malta between April 2 and 3.
The Papal visit was originally planned to take place in May 2020 but the Maltese government and the Holy See agreed to postpone it due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Later on last year, both sides discussed the possibility of the papal visit to take place in late 2021, but the increase in Covid-19 cases at that time led to the cancellation of all plans.
Pope Francis showed his desire not to visit Malta before the next general election. Consequently, it is very likely that in the next few weeks, the Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela will ask the President of Malta to dissolute Parliament, so that a general election can be held in March.
Pope Francis will be the third pontiff to visit Malta following the pastoral visits of St. John Paul II in 1990 and 2001 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.

Source: medNews

Malta stagnates on Corruption Perception Index 2021

VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Malta made an insignificant improvement of one point on its Corruption Perceptions Index from last year. With a score of 54 points for public sector corruption worldwide, Malta is still behind the rest of the EU and Western Europe which scored an average of 66 points.

In last year’s report issued by Transparancy International, Malta was considered as a “country to watch” and emphasized on the need of reforms to fight corruption and to prioritize the rule of law.

Last week, the police in Malta conducted a raid at former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat private residence and office. Both police searches were conducted as part of an investigation into potential corruption related to the privitisation process of three public hospitals.

Malta is still on the FATF’s grey list and no one was prosecuted for high level corruption. Maltese Finance Minister Clyde Caruana confirmed that it is still unknown when Malta will be removed from the FATF greylist, but did say that the government has submitted a report to assessors for consideration.

The 2021 report did not mention specifically Malta, however warned the EU Member States not to continue to drag their feet on implementing EU anti-money laundering legislation, and on closing the loopholes that still remain in this important new law.” It also said that EU countries also need to support an ambitious proposal to establish a new EU anti-money laundering agency.

The top countries on the Index are Denmark, Finland and New Zealand with a score of 88 points, all of which also rank in the top 10% in the world on the Democracy Index civil liberties score.


Source: medNews

Covid, Malta to ease restrictions from the first week of February

VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Malta will ease most of the anti-Covid restrictions as from the first week of February. This was confirmed by the Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela on Sunday. “Since a large number of people had now received their vaccines, the government is in a position to start removing more restrictions from the first week of February,” said Abela. While stressing that vaccines are the solution to the Covid pandemic, he added that these decisions are not motivated by populism.”
The local health authorties are exected to annouce a schedule of which restrictions will be removed first in the coming days. The anti-Covid restrictions announced by the Maltese government last December came under fire from various sectors, especiallu those in the hospitality, catering and aviation industry because of the damaging impact on business and operations.
Meanwhile, the local health authorities confirmed that the pandemic has claimed seven more lives in the past 24 hours. Four women aged 74, 81, 86, and 89, and three men – two aged 86 and another aged 89 are the latest victims, as the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic reached 532. Currently, 93 people are being treated for Covid at Mater Dei hospital; six are in intensive care.
In Sunday’s medical bulletin, the local health authorities said that 273 new cases were found. With 1,431 recoveries, the number of active cases stands at 5,671.
The health authorities have also confirmed that 1,193,682 vaccine doses have been administered to date, 321,351 of which are booster doses.

Source: medNews

Malta registers the highest number of Covid deaths

LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA)- Malta has registered the highest number of deaths caused by COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. The local health authorities confirmed that in the last 24 hours six more patients lost their life while Covid positive – three men aged 45, 75, 79 and and three elderly women aged 75, 79 and 97. So far, 520 people lost their life due to the virus. 94 patients are receiving treatment for COVID-19 at Mater Dei hospital. Eight are in intensive care. According to the daily medical bullettin, 286 new cases were registered. With 552 recoveries, the total number of active cases is 8,698. Meanwhile, the Maltese government is facing more international criticism following the new COVID measures that came into force on January, 17. The council representing the European airports appealed the European Commission to investigate the Maltese government for breaching the EU travel rules. Director General Olivier Jankovec said airports would be “extremely grateful” if the Commission investigates the matter “urgently,” contacts the Maltese authorities and asks them to abide by the EU’s rules.
According to the new rules, the Maltese vaccine certificates for adults over 18 years will only be valid for initial vaccine cycles done within the past three months or boosters within the past nine months.

Source: medNews

Malta, police raid the private residence of former prime minister Muscat

LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The police in Malta raided the private residence of former Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat as part of an ongoing investigation into a possible corruption activity related to company involved in the privitization and the management of three public state hospitals.
Muscat himself confirmed on Facebook that on Wednesday morning, the police entered his residence in Burmarrad, north of Malta, at around 7 a.m. Muscat added that he passed on to the investigators a file full of documents related to his private practice carried out following his resignation as prime minister two years ago.
He confirmed that the police seized the family’s mobile phones, including the mobile phones of his 14-year-old twin daughters.
Last November, it was disclosed that Accutor AG, a Swiss company which received millions in euros from Steward Healthcare following the taking over of the contractual agreement between the Labour government and Vitals Global Healthcare, paid Joseph Muscat around €60,000 for consultancy services. The payment was affected last year, with the first payment took place just two months after Muscat’s resignation. Former Maltese prime minister insisted that he did nothing wrong and explained that the payments were for professional work that was documented, fully invoiced, declared to the tax authorities and paid in Malta. He added that last november, he requested to speak to the inquiring magistrate, and confirmed that he had compiled a file with the work he had done for Accutor AG; the same file which has been passed on to the police during this morning’s search.
Reacting on Facebook, Muscat repeatedly said that he did all he could to serve Malta and he was disappointed about what was happening and declared that he was now ready to break his silence on many things.

Source: medNews

Malta registers one of the highest rate of deaths due to COVID-19

VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Malta has registered one of the highest number of death cases due to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
The Maltese health authorities confirmed that in the last 24 hours, five persons lost their life while positive for coronavirus – four women aged 70, 77, 82 and 92, and a 77-year-old man. A total of 548 people died while Covid positive since the start of the pandemic.
102 patients are still being treated for Covid in hospital, of whom eight are in intensive care.
In Wednesday’s update, the health authorities said that 342 new cases were found. The number of active cases stands at 8,970.
Recently, the Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela said that he is convinced that Malta is in the final stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. “We are at the last bend, and at this stage it is crucial to encourage people to take the booster jab to protect themselves, their families, and those around them”. He added that having a high rate of vaccination will allow the authorities to relax the restrict measures and getting closer to normality.
The health authorities have also confirmed that 1,179,961 vaccine doses have been administered to date, 313,060 of which are booster doses.

Source: medNews

EP Presidency’s election, “Roberta Metsola will make Malta proud”

LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The President of Malta George Vella declared that the newly elected European Parliament’s President Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola is a “remakable achievement for Metsola, but for Malta too.” He added that “if united, our size and geography pose no obstacle to vision and commitment”.

Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela congratulated Roberta Metsola and stated that she will make Malta proud. He added that the Maltese government is looking forward to work together on mutual priorities. Although, Nationalist MEP Metsola was aggressively criticized in the past by the Labour Party, Maltese Labour Prime Minister recognized Metolàs political abilities. “I am confident that we will be able to speak proudly about her as President of the European Parliament,” affirmed Abela.

Abela had refused to congratulate Metsola when she was elected as the first European Parliament’s Vice President in 2020, referring particularly to her criticism on Maltàs cash for passports scheme. At that time, Metsola described Robert Abela as “too weak, too insecure, too blinkered not to see beyond his Labour Party partisan politics”. Referring to this incident, Maltese Prime Minister added “that is the past. Now we look forward to work with Roberta Metsola, not just at a European level but also for the national interest”.

Nationalist Opposition Leader Bernard Grech said that he is “thrilled and proud.” In a statment, he added “today you have ignited the hearts of thousands of Maltese and Gozitan children, and young people to continue believing in themselves. You have proven that when you strive for something, you can achieve it. Even coming from a small country, you raise your head, work and move forward. You gave new hope showing that when you fight hard you can be a winner”.

Celebrating her 43rd birthday today, Metsola became the first Maltese politician to head an EU institution and the youngest President of the European Parliament.


Source: medNews

Roberta Metsola elected new President of the European Parliament

STRASBOURG (FRANCE) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Roberta Metsola won the election in the first voting round, where she received an absolute majority of 458 votes out of 690 cast in the remote secret vote, among three candidates. At the beginning of the day’s proceedings, Kosma Zlotowski (ECR, PL) withdrew his candidacy, bringing the number of candidates down to three.
President Metsola will lead the Parliament in the second half of the current legislative term, until a new Parliament is constituted following the 2024 European Elections.
Born in Malta in 1979, Roberta Metsola who has been an MEP since 2013, is the youngest EP President ever elected. She became First Vice-President in November 2020, and was Parliament’s acting President after President Sassoli passed away on 11 January. She is the third female President of the European Parliament, after Simone Veil (1979-1982) and Nicole Fontaine (1999- 2002).
Addressing the House immediately after she was elected, President Metsola said: “The first thing I would like to do as President is to think about David Sassolìs legacy: he was a fighter; he fought for Europe and for us, for this Parliament. I will honour David Sassoli as President by always standing up for Europe, for our common values of democracy, dignity, justice, solidarity, equality, the rule of law, and fundamental rights”.
“I want people to recapture a sense of belief and enthusiasm for our project. Dear Europeans, in the next years, people across Europe will look to our institution for leadership and direction, while others will continue to test the limits of our democratic values and European principles. We must fight back against the anti-EU narrative that takes hold so easily and so quickly. Disinformation and misinformation, further amplified during the pandemic, fuel easy cynicism and cheap solutions of nationalism, authoritarianism, protectionism, isolationism”, she added.
President Metsola underlined that “Europe is about precisely the opposite. It is about all of us standing up for one another, bringing our people closer together. It is about all of us defending those principles of our founding mothers and fathers that led us from the ashes of war and holocaust to peace, to hope, and to prosperity. Twenty-two years ago, Nicole Fontaine was elected 20 years after Simone Veil. It will not be another two decades until the next woman is standing here”, she said.

Source: medNews

Malta, protest before the new anti-Covid regulations come into force

VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Malta saw its largest protest against the new anti-Covid regulations announced last week by the Maltese health authorities which will come into force from tomorrow.
As from Monday, fully vaccinated people will no longer need to wear a mask alone in public or when in the company of another person. Although, the Maltese government is not considering to make the vaccination obligatory, social distancing in restaurants, bars and similar venues will return to pre-pandemic levels. However, such venues will only be accessible to people with a valid vaccine certificate, which must include a booster jab.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Valletta protesting opposing the presentation of an updated vaccination certificate including the booster shot to enter most of the public venues. The protestors declared that such regulation is discriminatory and should not be obligatory.
The Nationalist Opposition described the government’s measures as “excessive and discriminatory” and “no longer strike the right balance between public health and peoplès freedoms.”
However, Prime Minister Robert Abela denied that the government is breaching privacy by restricting access to a number of venues to vaccinated people. Abela called on to the anti-vaxxers to take the booster dose. He added the more people are vaccinated, the fewer restrictive measures will be needed. The health authorities have also confirmed that 1,168,755 vaccine doses have been administered to date, of which 305,549 are booster doses.
Over the past 24 hours, two more patients lost their life due to the pandemic – a 77-year-old woman and a 75-year-old man. Since th start of the pandemic, 506 people died while Covid positive. At the moment 104 patients are currently in hospital, of whom eight are in intensive care.
However, Malta registered the lowest number of positive cases in almost a month; with 301 people confirmed positive while 1,133 recovered from the virus. The number of active cases stands at 9,920.

Source: medNews

Air Malta in crisis, employees to be halved, routes will be removed

LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Maltese national airline, Air Malta, will be halving its workforce as part of a restructuring plan to reduce the company’s costs. This was announced by the Minister of Finance Clyde Caruana.

The company currently has about 890 employees and has to go down to about 420 with the rest being offered another employment in the public sector. Most of the staff reduction, around 300, will come from ground handling operations, and the remaining 110 will be administrative staff. This will save the national airline around €15 million every year.

Minister Caruana explained that the ground handling services will not be part of the company, unprofitable routes will be removed and the airline will attempt to become a European airline carrier that could fly within other countries.

Last year, Airmalta saved €40million after slashing half of its operating routes from 40 to 20. Cagliari, Casablanca, Bucharest were among the 20 routes which were stopped. Last week, the Maltese national airline decided to cut the number of frequencies to all of its winter destinations but none of its routes.

Minister Caruana said that he was being cautious in saying that this could be the last chance to save Air Malta. The Maltese national airline is currently making a loss of €170,000 a day.

Ten years ago, Air Malta also underwent a restructuring and financial assistance plan as a result of a reduction in manpower, aircrafts and even routes.

Last April, the Maltese Government presented a five-year financing plan for Air Malta although it seems the European Commission has rejected Maltàs plan to provide Air Malta with €290 million in aid. Minister Caruana said that the Maltese government is not expecting unprecendended financial aid from the European Commission and declared that the government disagrees with the Commission’s preferred option to close Air Maltàs operations and to start a new airline company.


Source: medNews

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