LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – A law introducing harsher penalties for traffic contraventions approved by the Maltese Parliament came into force today. The increased fines and penalty points for traffic contraventions were first announced last February and come into effect following last year’s record in road fatalities. Some of the fines will double to 200, including running on a red light and using a mobile phone while driving. Drivers who are caught using a phone while on the road will also have anything between six and nine penalty points deducted from their license. This means that those caught doing so twice within 12 months will temporarily lose their license. Meanwhile, the Maltese government announced the setting up of a bureau to investigate road accidents that will start functioning by the end of this year as part of a new policy towards safer transport in Malta. Last year was Maltàs deadliest on record for road fatalities. 26 people died, including 14 pedestrians. Meanwhile, the number of reported traffic accidents during the first quarter of 2023 reached 3,822, an increase of 6.3 percent over the same period in 2022. Road traffic casualties increased by 13.3 percent to 367 over the same period in 2022. Grievously injured persons amounted to 96 and consisted of 52 drivers, eight passengers, and 36 pedestrians and cyclists amongst others. The Maltese government embarked on a series of measures to make Maltese roads safer. Besides the investigative bureau, the increase in fines and penalty points for dangerous driving, and increasing enforcement, the transport authorities launched the first phase of a 35 million plan to make walking and cycling safer.
-credit photo agenziafotogramma.it-
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Malta hosted for the first time the MED9 meeting of energy ministers from nine Southern European countries in the Mediterranean. The countries which took part in this meeting were Croatia, Cyprus, Greece France, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain. The European Ministers discussed the EU targets for renewable energy and the Mediterranean’s role in becoming an environmental hub especially in the energy sector.
The nine countries signed a joint declaration launching the vision for the Mediterranean Region as a Hub of Green Energy, to accelerate the EU’s drive for a decarbonised, energy-independent future. The Med9 countries agreed that the Mediterranean can become a centre of renewable energy investments, with a focus on offshore renewables and new energy interconnections between EU and non-EU Mediterranean countries, to facilitate European investment in green energy. The joint statement sets out several important actions. The Med9 countries will be launching a steering committee to work together and plan the way forward for the establishment of the Mediterranean Green Energy Hub. This commitment will lead to new growth and employment opportunities in the region. The Energy Ministers also invited the EU Commission to conduct a comprehensive report to study the potential of green energy corridors that can link Europe with the renewable energy potential in neighbouring North African countries and to prioritise funding for the development of these critical Mediterranean interconnections. They also agreed to prioritise investments in renewable energy solutions, such as offshore renewables, solar PV power generation systems, the production and transportation of renewable hydrogen, and storage solutions. The Malta declaration affirms that the nine countries will work to make sure that every member state can benefit from the Mediterranean region’s green energy potential.
Maltese Energy Minister Miriam Dalli said that EU funds need to be invested towards innovative renewable energy projects that attract investment across all sea basins, including the Mediterranean. She added that this depends on financial support for research and innovation and for grid developments and proper infrastructure for the production, transmission, and storage of energy. Dalli invited the European Commission to speed up close cooperation among EU states while facilitating the development of new partnerships with other regions. “Cooperation with North Africa will play a vital role in accelerating the deployment of renewables in the EU,” she said. Miriam Dalli announced that the Maltese government is finalizing a policy document focusing on the potential zones for the deployment of offshore renewable energy systems. She added that investment in more renewable energy supports the EU vision, including the revised Renewable Energy Directive that “raised the ambition significantly.” While referring to the Eurostat statistics that show that by the end of 2021, Malta exceeded the national 2030 target regarding renewable energy, she announced that Maltàs ultimate aim is to become climate neutral by 2050. The EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said the summit could not have come at a better time, with the Commission presenting the RepowerEU plan last year. Simson said natural gas prices are similar to pre-war levels. This means, explained the EU Commissioner, that the attempt made by Russian President Vladimir Putin to blackmail Europe was unsuccessful. Kadri Simson said around 16 gigawatts of onshore and offshore wind renewables were installed last year. She added that renewable energy produced more electricity than gas in 2022.
The European Commissioner referred to the ongoing collaborations with countries in the North African region. “Last year we reached out to all out trusted partners, and Egypt was among the first ones to sign an MOU with the EU, allowing us to import more LNG than previously,” she said. Simson added that the EU made several financing decisions to create a solid basis for renewable projects in Egypt, while mentioning the good dialogue with Algeria and Morocco. Italy was represented by Fabrizio Romano, Italian Ambassador to Malta as the Italian Energy Minister had to cancel his participation due to other commitments related to the situation in the region of Emilia Romagna which was badly hit by extreme weather.
-photo credit Department of information Malta-
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Maltese government has launched the third strategy and action plan for the equality of LGBTIQ+ people for the next five years until 2027.
The strategy includes 94 measures in health, education, family, sport and other areas. The Parliamentary Secretary for Equality, Rebecca Buttigieg, explained that the strategy addresses the social realities and is also aimed to address discrimination against the LGBTIQ+ community.
According to this action plan, the Maltese government will be introducing gender re- affirmation surgery which is an operation for trans people who want their gender identity and expression to be aligned with their sex.
The strategy includes measures against hate speech and the spread of misinformation to foster a more inclusive society where every person can enjoy fundamental rights.
Some other measures will focus on promoting the reporting crimes against LGBTIQ+ persons as well as the provision of inclusive training to police officers and security guards.
This is the third National Strategy and Action Plan for LGBTIQ+. The launch of the plan comes a week after ILGA Europe flagged the fact that Malta’s previous national action plan (2018-2022) had not yet been renewed.
Despite this, Malta still ranks number one in Europe for LGBTIQ protection and human rights. In recent years, Malta made huge strides forward in improving legal and policy frameworks that impact the lives of LGBTIQ people. LGBTIQ+ people can now get married, adopt, and donate blood.
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ROME (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The agreement that allowed the export of wheat from Ukrainian ports through a secure corridor into the Black Sea was extended for another two months. This was announced by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to reports broadcasted by the Turkish State TV.
“We confirm the announcement by the President of Turkey, the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative by two months. There is one possibility, not in words, but through facts, to contribute to ensure global food security and help more the countries in need,” said Maria Zacharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
“Our analysis on the Istanbul agreements of 22 July 2022 have not changed and the problems would need to be resolved at the technical level as soon as possible”, she added.
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VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The President of Malta George Vella called for the withdrawal of all foreign forces, mercenaries, fighters, and armed groups from Libya. He appealed that a Libyan led and owned process will allow the people of Libya to choose their leaders and renew the legitimacy of their institutions.
Maltàs President was addressing the opening session of the ‘Malta InterAction Council Meeting’, during which he focused his address on the Mediterranean region and the challenges posed as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
George Vella shared his views on the realities that are shaping the Mediterranean region, especially on the concerning situation in Libya, which he termed sobering.
President Vella urged all former leaders to exert pressure where it is most needed and not to shy away from condemning unilateral acts of provocation, which only lead to further bloodshed. Directly addressing the former President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, President Vella reiterated the full support and solidarity of the people of Malta and expressed an absolute and downright condemnation of Russiàs invasion.
President Vella said that for the region to prosper and for the people to reach their full potential, there needs to emerge a sound and attractive investment climate based on functioning and accountable institutions. In this context, he called for a stronger political will for change while acknowledging the risks posed by a deteriorating environment.
– photo Department of Information Malta –
VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Malta is expected to register the EU’s second-highest economic growth rate, and lowest rate with inflation slashed by more than half according to the European Commission’s Spring Forecast.
The European Commission’s forecast is expecting an economic growth of 3.9% for Malta this year. Only Ireland is expected to have a higher economic growth at 5.5%.
The European Commission is forecasting a 4.1% growth rate for next year, while inflation is expected remain high at 5.4% in 2023 and decreasing to 2.8% in 2024. Increase in prices for imported goods; especially food, tourism services and housing maintenance services will keep high rate of inflation in 2023.
Economists from the European Commission believe that the measures taken by the Maltese government helped to keep energy prices unchanged in Malta, and are expected to remain in place also in 2023 and 2024. However, this led to a deficit of 5.8% in 2022, described by the European Commission as “among the highest in the EU”. It is expected to gradually decrease in 2023 and 2024. Maltese Finance Minister Clyde Caruana has repeatedly said Malta will need to wane off energy subsidies eventually. The government spent 400 million on energy subsidies last year.
The European Commission remarked that a strong 6.9 per cent GDP growth last year was in large part due to the recovering tourism sector, export of services and increase in domestic demand for goods and services. It added that the public debt is expected to remain below 60% of GDP.
On employment, the EC said that Malta maintains a high employment growth. The employment increased by an impressive 6% in 2022, both public and private. It said that Maltàs unemployment rate fell to 2.9% in 2022 and is expected to remain around this level by 2024. The report noted that “workers and skills shortages are expected to remain the main limiting factors for the Maltese economy over the forecast horizon,” the report said.
– photo Department of Information Malta –
TRIPOLI (LIBYA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Italian stand at the 49th Tripoli International Fair attracted great interest among various commercial operators and Libyan authorities, with Italian companies operating in the food, fashion, and cosmetic industries participating in strengthening the economic ties between the two countries.
Italy is the first commercial partner in Libya, particularly in the oil & gas, food, processing machinery and construction sectors.
The Italian-Libyan Centre for Business and Cooperation promoted the “Made in Italy” stand who was visited by the Prime Minister of the Tripoli-based Libyan Government Abd Alhamid Aldabaiba and the Minister of Economy Mohamed Al Hwej.
The Italian-Libyan Center for Business and Cooperation is a consultancy agency whose aim is to strengthen the economic and cultural relations between Italy and Libya, in collaboration with Italian-Libyan institutions.
– photo Centro Italo-Libico per l’Impresa e la Cooperazione –
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Various flights coming to Malta were diverted to Sicilian airports as bad weather conditions hit Malta’s international airport on Sunday evening, making it unsafe for planes to land. Flights leaving the island were also badly hit and delayed. The planes were diverted because of low visibility caused by the desert sand coming from the Sahara region and strong winds which could destabilise the aircraft. Malta International Airport confirmed that three flights were diverted to Catania and another to Palermo. The flights diverted to Catania were coming from Naples, Berlin and Paris while the flight diverted to Palermo was on its way to Malta from Paris. According to local reports, passengers on one of the flights reported heavy turbulence on the plane as it was reaching Malta, forcing the pilot to land in Catania. All four flights returned to Malta some four hours after the scheduled arrival time. Although an African cyclone is not expected to hit Malta on Monday evening, strong winds with gusts between Force 5 and 7 are expected to lash the Maltese islands. (ITALPRESS).
Photo Credits: www.agenziafotogramma.it
ANKARA (TURKEY) (ITALPRESS) – The second ballot scheduled on May 28 will determine who will lead Turkey in the coming years. About 61 million citizens were eligible to vote in yesterday’s election, with outgoing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – in office for 20 years – managed to gain 49.2%, while the main challenger, the sole candidate of the opposition and secular leader of the Republican Peoplès Party (CHP) Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, has slightly exceeded 45%. Neither of them has therefore exceeded the 50% threshold necessary to win the elections. The third presidential candidate, Sinan Ogan, got around 5%, and could be decisive. He is expected to announce his intentions soon.
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LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Maltese government revealed the use of a new software managed by Artificial Intelligence (AI) to immediately uncover tax evasion. Representatives of the International Monetary Fund were in Malta during the launch of the new system known as ‘Statistical Analysis System’. 85% of the government’s revenue comes from taxes. Last year, the tax department registered a 42 percent increase in tax agreements, that allow individuals and businesses with tax arrears to pay their dues over a period of time. Also, last year the tax department collected 240 million more in VAT.
Finance Minister Clyde Caruana confirmed that the new software is already in use in the UK, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Canada. It will be analyzing VAT returns by the end of this year and all other forms of taxes within the next three years.
The Maltese government is investing over 3 million euros over a period of three years in this AI software which will draw collect data from different registries and bank accounts to assess the individual’s cash deposits and illiquid assets in a move to help the tax authorities keep control on income and tax dues more efficiently. Finance Minister explained that the system will automatically alert authorities when a person or business’s declared income does not correspond with their accumulated wealth. The computer program runs daily analyses of the wealth that people and companies own and matches it with the income they declare.
-photo credit Doi-