Latest update: Malta News Briefing – Monday 22 February 2021

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Updated 1745- News Portal Briefing

Latest Update- News Portal Briefing

Times of Malta reports that traffic wardens could end up carrying out construction site inspections under proposed legislative changes, architects said on Monday, raising concerns about their understanding of the industry.  

MaltaToday reports that public health doctors have reiterated their stand against the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use.

Newsbook reports that Marcel Pisani is still missing

TVM reports that PM Robert Abela has written a letter to the European Commission President Charles Michel on the importance of having one market to purchase medicines which can benefit the patients and citizens of the EU.

Updated 1240 – Covid-19 update

Health authorities reported 193 new COVID-19 cases between Sunday and Monday as the death toll reached 305.

A total of 2,782 swab tests were carried out over the past 24 hours, also indicating 242 recoveries, bring the number of active cases to 2,471.

The latest victim was a 96-year-old man who passed away at Mater Dei Hospital.

The Health Ministry noted that 64,419 doses of vaccine have now been administered.

Update 1214 – Less businesses, households making use of moratoria on loans

A Central Bank report published this morning has shown that loans subject to a moratorium have declined for a fourth consecutive time since March 2020, indicating that more businesses and households have resumed their regular loan repayments.

The report notes that were 2,373 loans subject to a moratorium on repayments in December 2020, standing at €748.7 million or 6.4% of all outstanding loans to Maltese residents. This shows a decline of €185 million on the previous month, with the largest declines being observed in household, wholesale and retail, and real estate sectors. A significant part of such loans are held by households, with €137.6 million held by Maltese households.

The larger part of loans still dependent on moratoria are held in the accommodation and food service activities, with €213.1 million loans.

The Bank also said that its estimate of the COVID-19 government response index – which is a composite indicator that summarises various containment, economic and health-related measures introduced in response to the pandemic – stood at 64.0 at the end of January 2021. This was higher than 61.3 at the end of December, but below 69.7 in the euro area.

Updated 0820 – Newspaper Review

The Times says that the cybercrime police have registered an increase in reports about illicit video leaks of sexually explicit material. There were eight cases in 2020, double the normal rate, and already two cases this year.

L-Orizzont says that within thirty years, elderly people are expected to make one-fourth of Malta’s population. The paper speaks to gerontologist Anthony Agius Decelis who said that Malta has one of the highest rates of active ageing in Europe.

The Independent quotes a United Nations report which says that, in 2019, 20 military operatives active in Libya’s rebel campaign, were evacuated to Malta after an operation to supply General Haftar with military hardware was aborted.

In-Nazzjon quotes PN Leader Bernard Grech who said that the party considers Gozo a region in its own right. He revealed that the PN is conducting a report on the socio-economic scenarios of the island.

L-Orizzont says that the Prime Minister is holding a meeting of the PL parliamentary group today to discuss plans by the government to reform the property rentals laws for contracts drafted before 1995.

The Times quotes Prime Minister Robert Abela who said that the government is working to striking a balance between providing stability to tenants of homes under the pre-1995 rental arrangements and the right to fair compensation for property owners.

The Independent reports that the government has filed a planning application to convert a site in Ta’ Qali into a 500-car parking facility below a bike park. The 9,900 square meters area was previously part of an airfield.

In-Nazzjon says that the PN has committed to address the concerns of residents in Nadur after the land their homes are built on were registered by a private foundation. Party leader Bernard Grech accused the Prime Minister of ignoring the situation.  

Morning Briefing

Pre-1995 rent issues to be discussed in Cabinet today

A proposal for a reform to the current rent law will be brought up to Cabinet this morning, PM Robert Abela announced. Speaking in Kalkara, Abela said that Government will be bringing forward legal amendments to the situation related to pre-1995 rentals, while tackling the injustice suffered by property owners and tenants will be addressed through this reform. The Labour leader also gave an assurance that no one would end up homeless.

Dr Abela explained that the plan is based on three principles: that anyone who deserves protection will still have a place to live; that the Government will ensure that those who deserve the protection of social rents will not be burdened with unaffordable rents; and property owners are given proper compensation for their properties.

Gozo deserves to be a region – PN

PN Leader Bernard Grech said the party’s vision is that of considering Gozo as a region, adding that one of the first initiatives if the Nationalist Party is in Government will be for Gozitan workers with employment in Malta to be given a minimum of two days per week teleworking from Gozo.

Grech took Labour to task for not beng able to keep its promise to Gozitans in relation to jobs, saying that such situation is affecting 3,500 Gozitan workers who have to cross over to Malta after having been promised by the Labour Party prior to the 2013 election that it would create more work for the Gozitans in Gozo itself.

Dr Grech announced that that work on a report on the socio-economic situation in Gozo is nearly completed, stressing that the Nationalist Party wants a Regional Council for Gozo, elected by the Gozitans, with executive powers and adequate financing for it to work.

Covid-19 Update
Health authorities announced on Sunday that there were 130 new cases and 134 recoveries. The week therefore ended with 2,521 positive cases. Meanwhile, vaccinations reached 63,308, with more than 20,000 receiving both doses. The death toll now stands at 304.

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