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| Malta: Malta Independent.com.mt : (Laatste update: donderdag 2 februari 2023 01:09:55)
APS Bank fined €228,706 by FIAU, bank will not appeal and says ‘remediation' done in past years
APS Bank has been fined €228,706 by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit over an inspection which took place in 2020.
The FIAU found in its inspection that there were breaches in the bank’s Business Risk Assessment, which at the time had been drafted in the final quarter of 2019 – far later than when the legal requirement for one came into force on 1 January 2018.
The FIAU also found “various shortcomings” in the bank’s then risk assessment methodology and in the implementation of its new risk assessment methodology in the second quarter of 2020.
The FIAU noted that the breaches all stem from the former risk assessment methodology being inadequate and that the seriousness of the failure is compounded as it persisted for a considerable amount of time.
“Notwithstanding the above, the Committee positively acknowledged that the Bank’s new risk assessment methodology adequately addresses the majority of the shortcomings identified with the former risk assessment methodology,” the FIAU’s enforcement notice read.
The Bank said in a company announcement published on the Malta Stock Exchange that it would not be appealing the fine and that it was satisfied that it had carried out significant remediation work and improvements over the past years.
The Bank said that it has taken note of the findings, which it said largely relate to “legacy matters” and said that it is “satisfied that the outcome also reflects the significant remediation that has been taking place over the past years.”
“While noting also that the administrative penalty has no material impact on its financial performance, the Bank informs that it will not be lodging an appeal to the Notice or penalty,” the bank said.
The Bank is fully committed to the highest standards of operational integrity and regulatory compliance, and is a key player in the fight against financial crime.
Over the past years, the Bank said that it had increased its investment in resources and technology to enhance and increase the effectiveness of its financial crime compliance framework, which had already commenced before the 2020 examination took place.
“The Bank appreciates that its proactiveness in carrying out the necessary remedial actions and its commitment to enhance its processes and controls, have also been commended by the FIAU in the Enforcement Notice,” the notice read.
Marcel Cassar, CEO, commented: “We welcome the publication of the FIAU statement as it marks the closure of an examination that helped us further improve our risk and compliance management. Having taken the examination findings very seriously, we carried out remediation, invested in technology, robustly grew our financial crime compliance resources and scaled up training across the entire Bank. Overall, we are positive that this process has continued to strengthen the Bank’s governance, systems and compliance controls.”
Wed, 01 Feb 2023 19:09:00 +0000
Motorcyclist grievously injured in Gozo accident
A motorcyclist suffered grievous injuries in a traffic accident in Gozo on Wednesday afternoon.
Police said that they were informed of a traffic accident in Triq Fortunato Mizzi in Rabat, Gozo, at around 3pm on Wednesday.
Preliminary investigations showed that a crash had taken place between a motorcycle being ridden by a 26-year-old man from Sannat and a Mitsubishi Pajero Junior being driven by a 58-year-old man from Rabat, Gozo.
The motorcyclist was given first aid on the scene and then taken to Gozo General Hospital by ambulance, where he was certified as suffering from grievous injuries.
Police said that its investigations are ongoing.
Wed, 01 Feb 2023 18:32:00 +0000
Prime Minister indicates there will be no public inquiry into Jean Paul Sofia’s death for now
Prime Minister Robert Abela has indicated that no public inquiry will be called to look into the death of Jean Paul Sofia.
Abela was responding to a parliamentary question filed by PN MP Jerome Caruana Cilia who asked whether a public inquiry will be appointed to look into the tragic death.
The 20-year old lost his life on the 3rd December of 2022 when a three-storey building collapsed in Kordin; it took 16 hours for the Civil Protection Department to clear the rubble and retrieve his body.
Five others were hospitalised as a result of the incident, which proved a talking point over a perceived lack of building quality in the half-built factory. Nobody has been charged over the incident thus far.
“An inquiring magistrate is leading an inquiry into this case, while investigations from other relevant authorities are also taking place. If we really want justice, these institutions need to be allowed to work in serenity,” the Prime Minister said.
“At the same time, I appeal to them to give maximum importance to this case, so that the victim’s family and society can enjoy swift justice,” he added.
Caruana Cilia has previously suggested that the authorities are trying to bury this case in order to avoid the ire of certain “big shots” with access to people in positions of power.
Wed, 01 Feb 2023 18:21:00 +0000
Speaker rules that Karl Cini is not obliged to answer Public Accounts Committee questions
The Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia has ruled that former Nexia BT director Karl Cini is not obliged to answer questions which could incriminate himself before the Public Accounts Committee.
In a parliamentary sitting on Wednesday, Farrugia explained the circumstances under which a witness can refrain completely from answering questions which he, or his lawyer, thinks that might incriminate the witness before the PAC.
This was in reply to the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Darren Carabott’s request to clarify the exact scenarios in which a witness can or cannot respond to questions put to them by committees
Farrugia said that no witness is compelled to answer a question which may incriminate them, and they have the right to complete silence. The only exception is if the witness has already been charged on the same topic and material which the PAC would be discussing.
Cini was summoned to testify before parliament's spending watchdog, where he refused to answer any questions put to him by committee chairman Darren Carabott.
Cini had repeatedly said that he would be exercising his right to silence all throughout the 35-minute hearing.
Cini is facing money laundering charges on allegations of kickbacks between Keith Schembri and former Progress Press chairman Adrian Hillman.
He said that the courts make a distinction between witnesses who are charged in criminal offences which are related to the material discussed in PAC sittings, and the witness who could incriminate themselves by answering questions put forth by the committee.
Farrugia also said that the Speaker cannot be asked to deliberate whether the witness should answer the questions or not.
The Speaker decided that each witness called before the committee and has no charges on the topic discussed, cannot be compelled to reply, Farrugia said.
He continued that the prosecution in criminal cases must investigate to find their evidence, not achieve it through coercion of the witness.
Wed, 01 Feb 2023 17:47:00 +0000
Strong recovery in 2022, but Zahra warns that Air Malta’s survival is crucial for the hotel industry
Air Malta remains crucial for this country’s connectivity, with the President of Malta’s hotel lobby warning that despite the industry seeing a strong recovery in 2022; it could be in jeopardy if the national airline were to fold.
“If [hotel owners and investors in the industry] are going to put money in the industry, make sure you have something unique and good to offer”, Malta Hotel’s and Restaurant Association President Tony Zahra said on Wednesday.
Zahra was speaking during the MHRA’s presentation of the BOV-Deloitte Hotels' Quarterly Performance Review for the overall and fourth quarter results of year 2022.
“If you are going to undercut the industry will only land you into failure and bring down some of the others, but the strong will remain there”, he said, addressing hotel owners.
Leading the presentation was Deloitte Financial Advisory Leader Raphael Aloisio. He said that overall 2022 was a difficult first quarter; however tourist arrivals started to increase during the other three quarters of the year.
Overall, tourists landing in Malta for 2022 reached 83% of the last pre-pandemic year in 2019.
He added that overall guest nights reached 85.4% of 2019 levels and that the average length of stay in 2022 was just a little bit longer than that recorded in 2019. The average daily tourist expenditure was €121.86, 9.4% more than the amount recorded in 2019. Nearly 91% more money was spent by tourists overall in 2022 than was spent during the same period in 2019.
Overall, 2022's statistics show a considerable rebound, but profitability is still lower than that of the previous year. The greater supply of lodging and an overall increase in expenses can be used to explain the causes of this outcome.
According to Zahra, the hotel industry is on the right track to recovery, but in order to maintain momentum and return to 2019 performance levels as soon as possible, it's critical to recognise the new difficulties that lie ahead.
In order to emphasise the value of sustainability, he mentioned the difficulties associated with rising housing costs and supplies, which could have an effect on levels of profitability. Zahra explained how crucial it was for the government to decide to handle the rise in energy prices since, in the absence of that action, the situation would have been tremendously difficult, as is seen in other nations.
He said that he has colleagues in the United Kingdom where, due the rise in energy costs, instead of paying €300,000 in bills they are now paying €1.1 million “and it is affecting their profitability.”
In addition, Zahra underscored the need for connectivity by mentioning recent events at Air Malta and stressing how important it is for Air Malta to maintain operations. He further explained that Air Malta is crucial to the long-term viability of the MICE industry (a key contributor to the performance of hotels especially during the winter season).
Minister for Tourism Clayton Bartolo also addressed the conference and stated that “the facts speak for themselves. As it were, our tourism industry had received the best possible financial vaccine against the Covid-19 pandemic. The recovery results are truly proving this.”
“To ensure more success we will work harder to bolster air connectivity, sustain the MTA's marketing efforts in primary and secondary source markets, while pursuing our investment in the regeneration of tourism hot spots to assure that Malta continues to elevate its hospitality experience in the years to come,” Bartolo concluded.
Wed, 01 Feb 2023 17:28:00 +0000
Paulina Dembska murder: Abner Aquilna grins as his Balluta church antics are described in court
The man accused of murdering a young Polish student on 2 January, 2022, had insisted with medical staff who examined him that he was in perfect health, the court heard on Wednesday.
Medical staff from the Floriana Health Centre were testifying in the compilation of evidence against Abner Aquilina, accused of murdering Paulina Dembska at Sliema's Independence Garden.
Magistrate Marseanne Farrugia heard the health centre staff say that Aquilina's behaviour led them to suspect otherwise.
Dr Andrew Hall, who had examined Aquilina after his arrest, testified first. The accused had been brought to him by the police in view of his antics in a church, he said.
“I examined his mental state and referred him for psychiatric treatment,” the doctor said, explaining that he had made the referral after conferring with on call psychiatry specialists.
“During my examinations, I noticed that he was not taking care of his appearance. He was repeating the same words over and over again. He did not maintain eye contact and was agitated,” the doctor said under cross-examination by lawyer Stefano Filletti, who is representing the family of the victim.
The accused had told him that he had seen “a woman dressed in white and had followed her into a church.”
Aquilina grinned in court as his Balluta church antics were described on the witness stand.
“He said there was an influence controlling his thoughts and actions. When I asked him what this influence was, he put his finger over his mouth and made a shushing sound and said he couldn’t give a reply,” the doctor testified.
The witness said he had consulted with colleagues in psychiatry and they had recommended that Aquilina be assessed and observed further.
Filletti read from the medical report: “[Aquilina] insisted that he was in perfect health and showed signs of agitation that increased with the number of questions asked.”
“Did he give details of what he had done in church?” asked the lawyer. “No, but the police had mentioned that he had been kicking things over inside Balluta church.”
The doctor had not asked Aquilina about the murder as he had not been linked to it at that time, he said.
When cross-examined by Aquilina’s defence lawyer Mario Mifsud, the witness said that he had recommended Aquilina immediately be taken to hospital, on the advice of the psychiatrists on call, but was not able to confirm that this had, in fact, taken place.
The accused’s constant grin widened as the next witness, a senior staff nurse at the Floriana Health Centre, took the stand, although the reason for this is not clear.
“I had taken care of the patient myself and had passed on some swabs of the blood that was on his hands, to the police.” The witness recognised the accused in the dock, saying that he had bleached blonde hair at the time.
“When he came in he was agitated, I had to clean his hands because they were full of blood. His left hand had been bandaged, but not by us,” she said, explaining that he had been using a camouflage pattern bandage that had not been issued by the health service.
“He wanted me to clean the wound with only saline solution, he snatched the bottle to check if it was saline.” She had handed the blood swabs to one of the three police officers accompanying Aquilina, she said.
The court also heard two police constables testify about the crime scene. The witnesses, both recalled being dispatched to Sliema by the control room. As they approached the scene, a foreign national had approached them to tell them where the body was.
He explained that he had attempted to cover the victim to protect the woman’s modesty until the police arrived, because she was partially unclothed. The police officers said they had then covered Dembska’s body with a sheet.
Her jeans and underwear were also found at the scene, they said also describing how her running shoes had been at the side, together with a cream-coloured handbag. A clump of hair, which they suspected to have belonged to the victim, was hanging on the railing. The victim had also been hit in the face, they said.
Both officers were shown photos of the crime scene and asked to confirm the details.
The court upheld a request by the prosecution asking for a witness to testify from Colombia via videoconferencing . The court appointed a translator to translate a request to this effect from Maltese to Spanish, in order for it to be sent to the Colombian authorities.
The case continues in March.
Inspector Shaun Pawney assisted by AG lawyers Darlene Grima and Anthony Vella led the prosecution. Defence lawyer Mario Mifsud appeared for the accused. Lawyer Stefano Filletti assisted as parte civile.
Wed, 01 Feb 2023 15:51:00 +0000
22 to be deported after being found in Malta illegally
Twenty-two people will be deported after they were caught living in Malta illegally, the police said.
They were found during inspections carried out by the police and the detention services in Marsa and Qormi on Wednesday, the police said in a statement.
The people who were caught hail from Ghana, Gambia, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, Eritrea, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
They were all taken to the police headquarters in Floriana where the process that would lead to their deportation was initiated.
Wed, 01 Feb 2023 15:33:00 +0000
MDA says promises of sale in January second highest in last seven years
The Malta Developers Association said that the 1,247 promises of sales (konvenji) of property in Malta and Gozo were registered during January 2023, which is the second highest in number for January in the last seven years.
The aggregate value of the property sold in January 2023 is €328,438,582,which is the highest amount for the month in the last seven years, the MDA said.
These figures confirm that the analysis from some quarters based on a decrease year on year in December 2022 was totally misguided, the MDA said.
The MDA said December 2021 was an anomalous month as it marked the end of government Covid-related incentives for the property market and thus led to a rush in filing of Promises of Sale.
In fact, the following month, the Promises of Sale filed were significantly less than usual. The figures for December 2022 compare favourably with December 2020, while now the January 2023 figures are as strong as ever.
This confirms that the property market is still the preferred point of investment for families and businesses, and keeps going from strength to strength despite flawed analysis by some who are clearly detached from market realities, the MDA said.
Wed, 01 Feb 2023 14:51:00 +0000
Government says it will continue strengthening support for the elderly living in the community
The government said that it will continue strengthening support for the elderly living in the community.
Prime Minister Robert Abela visited two Active Ageing centers to meet with elderly community members on Wednesday.
During his first visit, Abela visited the Centre for Dementia in Hal Safi, which provides support to families and opportunities for those with dementia to live better-quality lives.
At the Hal Safi centre, the Prime Minister spoke with the elderly during activities specifically tailored to suit their capabilities and preferences.
The center is designed to be accessible and provide a comfortable atmosphere for the elderly.
Abela then visited a Siggiewi centre and followed the activities that had been prepared for the elderly patients, related to artistic creativity, physical activity, and gardening.
The Prime Minister noted that the elderly in the community want to remain active and exercise their capacities in different areas. Abela pointed out that the government's policy is to support different people in society, including the elderly. This is reflected not only in increased pensions for retirees, but also in additional benefits that will be given in the coming days, including the bonus for elderly patients who continue living in their communities when they're 75 years old or older, and even bonuses given to those who don't qualify for contributory pensions, a government statement read.
The Prime Minister considers these measures to be decisions made in the interest of people and aimed at moving the country forward so that nobody would be left behind.
Abela thanked those who work closely with the elderly to help them live in a dignified environment.
Accompanying the Prime Minister on the two visits was the Minister for Active Aging Jo Etienne Abela.
Wed, 01 Feb 2023 14:51:00 +0000
Vince Muscat says he drove hitman to meet Chris Cardona to 'plan Caruana Galizia murder' in 2014
A man serving time following an admission to his involvement in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017 told a court on Wednesday that, three years earlier, he had driven George Degiorgio to Portomaso to meet with then minister Chris Cardona and discuss a €150,000 hit on the journalist.
Testifying in court in a case instituted by the Caruana Galizia family for damages, Vince Muscat, known as il-Kohhu, gave details on the alleged aborted plot to kill the journalist in 2014, three years before her eventual murder, The Times reports.
Muscat was sentenced to 15 years in jail for his involvement in the 2017 murder. George Degiorgio and his brother Alfred were later sentenced to 40 years in jail after also pleading guilty on the first day of their trial last year.
Before Madam Justice Anna Felice, Muscat today explained his role as one of the three men involved in the planting and detonating of the bomb that killed Caruana Galizia on 16 October 2017.
He then testified on a previous attempt that took place in 2014, a plot he said was masterminded by Cardona and including George Degiorgio.
Muscat spoke about how in 2014 Degiorgio had told him about a meeting with Cardona. "I took him [Degiorgio] to Portomaso and dropped him off at the roundabout," he said, adding that later Degiorgio told him that the meeting was about settling the sum to "get rid" of Caruana Galizia.
"He did not tell me anytime else. But those €150K came from there. In truth, I never saw Cardona but George told me that those €150K were coming from Cardona," Muscat said.
The witness was also cross-examined by lawyer Anna Mallia, who is assisting businessman Yorgen Fenech, who stands accused of complicity in the Caruana Galizia murder case.
Fenech’s lawyer asked if the witness had ever heard of Yorgen Fenech before the murder. Muscat replied, “No never. Until the bomb happened, no.”
He was also asked if he had ever said as much to [lead investigator Superintendent] Keith Arnaud? Muscat said that he “did not remember if he had.”
Wed, 01 Feb 2023 14:40:00 +0000
17% of family businesses do not have the most basic form of governance – Chamber of Commerce
A survey carried out by The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry showed that 17% of family businesses do not have the most basic form of governance or a functioning board of directors (BOD).
The results of the survey were revealed by the Chamber on Wednesday whilst celebrating its 175 year anniversary. The survey received replies from 120 family businesses.
President of the Chamber Marisa Xuereb spoke about the important role family businesses have in Malta’s economy.
She said that the Chamber has been committed to supporting them through a number of initiatives, such as the training courses for family businesses which were launched in June 2022.
She said that in spite of all the challenges many family businesses face, especially right now, these businesses have a tendency to fall short of the basic need to have good governance.
Energy and Enterprise Minister Miriam Dalli was also present at the press conference and she said that this survey was another milestone marking the continuation of what was started six years ago with the beginning of the family business office.
She mentioned how there were 259 family businesses registered with the Chamber, and in reality there are actually more operating in the country. She added that family businesses make up 75% of the businesses in Malta which make them the “backbone of our economy”.
Therefore, she said, the government will continue providing support to give more importance to good governance. She said that through the family business office, there is a lot of guidance and incentives which help support family businesses.
She said that the government is focused on making sure that these family businesses carry the meaning of continuity as the vision is a long-term strategy. She said that family businesses must give more importance to good governance in order to achieve this.
She also said that under the family business grant the support more than tripled in a year.
Chairperson of the Malta Chamber Family Business Committee Silvan Mifsud presented the results of the survey.
In the survey, respondents were asked whether the family business has a functional BOD, out of 115 respondents to this question, 96 respondents (83%) reported that they have a BOD that meets regularly to discuss whilst the rest (19 respondents, 17%) said they did not.
Mifsud said that those who said that they did not have a functional BOD had a very backwards-looking mindset when making decisions about the future direction, such as taking matters as and when they arise and as necessary and informal discussions.
Mifsud said that family businesses need to find a balance and compromise when there is conflict. He said that these businesses can only survive if the “’we’ is greater than the ‘me’ ”. He added that it is extremely important that family businesses find a place to discuss business matters.
In order for family businesses to transform themselves they need strategic planning to make sure that they are all on the same page.
Asked whether they have a strategic plan, out of 114 respondents, 38 respondents (33%) said that they have one which is regularly reviewed. 57 respondents (50%) said that they do not have one but they want to get there, and 19 respondents (17%) said that they do not need it.
Mifsud also spoke about the importance of resilience which comes through succession planning, and it was important to note that businesses understand that this needs to be treated as a journey, not an event.
Asked whether they have written a succession plan, out of 108 respondents, 38 respondents (35%) said that they have and 70 respondents (65%) said that they do not have one.
He said that this is important as it gives peace of mind to business owners, and allows businesses to scale up through governance whilst making sure that there are enough checks and balances to do so.
He said that it is never too early to start the succession planning journey.
Asked about family business priorities, retaining one’s present labour force, having regular and timely reporting of financial performance and key KPIs and improving financial performance to survive, he said that these were all very much inward-looking, here and now.
He mentioned how it was encouraging to see that improving digitalisation and being environmentally friendly are pretty high up.
He pointed out that anything linked to future thinking, like increasing the involvement of the next generation was too far down on the importance list.
Pursuing strategic acquisitions or mergers, Beefing up your board of directors with independent and non-executive directors and increasing investments in innovation and R&D were given the least importance.
More statistics revealed that 50% of family businesses who declared that they have a functioning BOD, then do not have a written strategic plan or feel that they do not need one.
95% of those family businesses who declared that they do NOT have a functioning Board of Directors, do not have a written strategic plan.
73% of family businesses that declared that they do NOT have a written strategic plan also have no written succession plan.
51% of those family businesses that declared that they have a written strategic plan also have a written succession plan.
When comparing the priorities of family businesses with a BOD as opposed to those who do not, the ones with a functioning BOD gave greater importance to timely financial reporting as they would need to report to the Board as opposed to those not having a Board.
Also, those with a board gave more importance to adapting their business model.
When comparing the priorities of family businesses that have a strategic plan, those that have given more importance to the training & reskilling of their workforce and the re-thinking of their business model than those family businesses with no written strategic plan.
Lastly, when comparing the priorities of family businesses with a succession plan, family businesses with a succession plan gave more importance to the training and re-skilling of their employees and the increased involvement of the next generation than those family businesses that do not have a written succession plan.
Wed, 01 Feb 2023 12:42:00 +0000
Updated (2): PN says Abela should withdraw comments on courts and apologise, PL replies
The Nationalist Party on Wednesday called on the Prime Minister to withdraw the comments he made about the judiciary last Sunday, and apologise publicly for the “irresponsible and dangerous” declarations that he made.
In a political activity, Abela said that the courts should review their sentencing policy and admitted to have discussed the matter with a magistrate.
It is not acceptable in a democratic society that the PM boasts of having had a communication with a member of the judiciary, when he knows that they have the duty not to be in such communication, the PN said.
The PN also recalled that a few weeks ago the PM had also passed remarks on the choice of magistrates in a bit to influence the people responsible for the selection process.
It is also scandalous that, rather than see that the PM behaves appropriately, Justice Minister Jonathan Attard has become his accomplice and is now justifying what the PM did, the PN said.
Abela and Attard confirm that their do not have any respect towards the independence and autonomy of members of the judiciary.
The PM should withdraw what he said and apologise, the PN said.
The statement was signed by PN spokesman for justice Karol Aquilina.
In reply, the Labour Party said that the PN wants to defend the status quo.
All society should have the right to expect the safeguarding of all institutions that are there to defend it, the PL said.
The Labour government had established mechanisms for members of the judiciary to be appointed by an independent body, and therefore does not take lesson from the PN, the PL said.
In a counter reply, the PN said the PL saw nothing wrong that a Prime Minister communicates with members of the judiciary.What is wrong, is right for Labour, and this confirms that Abela wants to hijack the institutions and not allow them to work independently.The PN again insisted for an apology from the PM.
Wed, 01 Feb 2023 11:03:00 +0000
BCRS recovers 1,000 tonnes of drinks containers in just 10 weeks
More than 1,000 tonnes of empty drink containers — equivalent in weight to 12 Boeing 737 aircraft — have been collected in just 10 weeks from the introduction of the Beverage Container Refund Scheme (BCRS).
The empty bottles and cans retrieved are being packaged into bales and exported to special plants in Paris and Italy to be recycled back into new containers, the company said in a statement.
By the end of January, a total of 25 million empty drinks containers were collected, with the bulk — 70 per cent — mostly plastic, followed by aluminum cans (23 per cent), and glass (seven per cent), according to BCRS Malta, a not-for-profit consortium, set up by beverage and retail associations, which is running the scheme.
Apart from ensuring that plastic placed on the market is properly collected and recycled, the scheme has also incentivised many to scour the streets and countryside for discarded bottles to get the 10c deposit.
These figures are an encouraging indicator, as the main goal behind this scheme is to ensure Malta — which to date recycles less than 20 per cent of the more than 230 million drink containers on the market — ups its game to meet the EU targets.
A BCRS spokesperson said: “Although it is too early to give statistically solid data, the indicators after just 10 weeks show that we are heading in the right direction to meet the targets set for the first year of operation.”
BCRS Malta has also received its first recycling certification crediting the organisation for its clean material collection, which is sold to producers of beverage containers and remade into new receptacles, putting into practice the principles of a circular economy.
Giving an update on the patterns emerging since the scheme was rolled out in November, the spokesperson said BCRS had also received a good response from grocers who recognised the advantages of the scheme for their business and were accepting to manually collect the empty containers of their clients.
“To date, over 100 grocers around Malta and Gozo are offering a manual collection and we continue to receive reports that apart from providing customers with a great service, they are witnessing an increase in sales by offering a one-stop-shop for those seeking to do their shopping while simultaneously offloading their beverage containers,” he said.
The spokesperson added that the public hubs with the highest collections were located in Birkirkara, Rabat, Luxol, Żejtun, St Paul’s Bay, Żabbar, Vittoriosa, Marsascala, Gżira and Xewkija in Gozo, with an average of 6,000 empty containers collected each per day.
Saturday is consistently the most popular day people choose to do their recycling, followed by Fridays and Mondays. The highest collection day was December 20, 2022, when 459,941 containers were collected in one day.
BCRS is mindful that these huge numbers mean the reverse vending machines are filling up quickly, so it has a system of runners in place to ensure these are emptied up to 10 times a day, every day!.
“If we maintain this momentum, we can achieve our EU environmental targets; one bottle at a time,” the spokesperson said.
Wed, 01 Feb 2023 10:08:00 +0000
Updated: MUT says educator assaulted by student in Gozo school
The Malta Union of Teachers said Wednesday that an educator was assaulted in a school in Gozo on Tuesday.
In a statement, the MUT said the educator was attacked by a student and ended up with a broken arm that could lead to a permanent disability.
The MUT said that it is in contact with the educator and school, and has called for an urgent meeting with the Education Ministry.
A report has been filed with the police.
No details were given by the union on the age of the student and the school where it happened.
The union condemned the incident.
It added that it will continue to report and follow such incidents, and give support to the educators involved.
It urged for a better support structure in schools to avoid a repetition.
In a second statement, the MUT said that it had held a meeting with Education Minister Clifton Grima to discuss the incident.
The ministry informed the MUT that a committee is to be established to find out how the incident evolved, with the union insisting that the educator who was assaulted is given all the support needed.
The MUT proposed the setting up of a review board to analyse the "difficult situations" that educators have to face. This board should then draw up a report with recommendations on how to improve safety in schools, a proposal that was accepted by the ministry. The MUT said it will have its own representative on this board.
Wed, 01 Feb 2023 10:04:00 +0000
Juridical interest in the context of insurance claims
On the 22 June 2022, in the case of ‘A. Pace Balzan v Citadel Insurance p.l.c.’, the Court of Appeal in its inferior jurisdiction, presided over by Judge Lawrence Mintoff, delved into the concept of juridical interest in the context of an insurance claim.
Facts of the Case
The case was brought before the Court of Appeal by the appellant, following an arbitral decision granted on the 10 November 2021, wherein the Malta Arbitration Centre had rejected the pleas made by the plaintiff against Citadel Insurance p.l.c. (“Citadel”).
The case concerned a claim made by the plaintiff in respect of damage caused to his yacht due to bad weather conditions between the 23 – 24 February 2019 while the yacht was berthed at the Gzira Strand. The yacht in question was covered by an insurance policy issued by Citadel, who refused to honour the claim made by the plaintiff.
The plaintiff proceeded to institute proceedings at the Malta Arbitration Centre, whereby he requested the recovery of costs in relation to damages caused to his yacht amounting to €14,317.68, together with interest at the rate of 8% (the maximum percentage permitted by Maltese law), to be incurred from the date on which the judicial letter had been served upon Citadel.
Citadel rebutted the claims stating that the plaintiff had failed to prove (by means of a survey report or other similar documentation) that he had carried out the necessary actions on his yacht as required by the insurance endorsement issued by Citadel. Furthermore, Citadel stated that this amounted to a breach of warranty of the insurance policy, and that consequently, the insurance policy was not deemed to have come into effect yet. Citadel therefore stated that they should not be held liable to honour the claim made by the plaintiff.
The Arbiter noted that the plaintiff instituting the proceedings at the Malta Arbitration Centre had the obligation to prove that he had a juridical interest in the case, and that he did, in fact, suffer a loss as a result of the damage caused to his yacht. The Arbiter referred to the testimony made by the plaintiff’s son, who had stated that he (the plaintiff’s son) had directly incurred all the costs to remedy the damage caused to his father’s yacht. The Arbiter stated that despite the plaintiff being the owner of the yacht, the expenses incurred to repair the yacht had been settled by the plaintiff’s son and not by the plaintiff, and hence the plaintiff could not be deemed to have had a juridical interest in these proceedings.
The Court’s Considerations
Following the Arbiter’s decision, the plaintiff (on appeal referred to as the “appellant”) instituted proceedings in the Court of Appeal on the 26 November 2021, requesting the Court of Appeal to revoke the arbitral decision in its entirety.
The Court of Appeal proceeded to consider the appellant’s requests. The first claim made by the appellant was that the Arbiter’s decision had not been based on the facts of the case, and that the decision was motivated by ‘parameters’ that went beyond those raised by the parties, namely that Arbiter’s decision had been based on the notion of juridical interest, when such a defence had not been raised by the defendant during the arbitral proceedings.
The second claim made by the appellant concerned the testimony made by the appellant’s son, which testimony the appellant said had been intended to prove that his son used to take care of the yacht on the appellant’s behalf and hence, that the appellant should indeed be deemed to have had a juridical interest in the case. The appellant made reference to his son’s testimony, who had stated what had happened. The appellant’s son had opened the claim with Citadel on behalf of his father. Citadel had asked the appellant’s son for copies of invoices and receipts. The appellant further explained to the Court that an agreement had not been reached between his son and Citadel regarding the amount offered by Citadel, and the appellant’s son had asked Citadel for an explanation regarding the amount being offered, to which Citadel did not provide an explanation. The appellant explained that his son had provided a copy of his (and his father’s) bank statements, which clearly indicated the expenses incurred in repairing the yacht. The appellant’s son had furthermore stated in his testimony that he had carried out some repairs himself, at his own expense.
The appellant furthermore pointed out to the Court of Appeal that at no point during the arbitral proceedings did Citadel’s representative contest the claim made by the plaintiff or raise the defence of lack of juridical interest. In fact, Citadel’s representative had confirmed that the receipts provided by the appellant’s son had amounted to €3,254.80. The appellant stated that the arbitral proceedings had been instituted since the sum of €3,254.80 was not sufficient to cover the expenses that had been incurred by his son in repairing the yacht. The appellant also referred to the cross-examination of Citadel’s representative which had taken place during the arbitral proceedings, whereby Citadel’s representative had stated that the dispute was merely about the quantum of the claim, and not about the plaintiff’s right of cover. The appellant furthermore insisted that despite the fact that his son took care of his yacht, carried out certain repairs, knew of the facts, filed the claim, and was involved in the negotiations with Citadel, the fact remained that the name appearing on the policy was that of the appellant and not of his son. The appellant reiterated that the claim was a contractual one, i.e. arising out of the policy entered into between Citadel and the appellant, and that the Court of Appeal should therefore revoke the Arbiter’s decision. The appellant stated that the reimbursement (or lack of reimbursement) from the appellant to his son was an issue extraneous to this case, and should not affect the outcome of the judgement, and that in any case, it was impossible for the appellant’s son to institute proceedings against Citadel, since there was no juridical relationship between them.
Citadel rebutted the appellant’s claims, quoting the Latin maxim of ‘semper necessitas probandi incumbit ei qui agit’ (meaning that he who alleges must prove). Citadel also stated that the fact that the dispute related to the quantum, did not in any case mean that Citadel had accepted that there indeed was a juridical interest.
After considering the facts of the case, the Court of Appeal concluded that the determining factor in deciding the dispute between the parties was indeed the issue of juridical interest. The Court of Appeal stated that in order for the appellant to succeed in his action, it was fundamental for the appellant to prove that he had directly suffered the damages being claimed from the defendant.
The Court of Appeal proceeded to deny the appellant’s claims, while confirming in its totality the decision of the Arbiter.
Nico Fauser is an Advocate at Ganado Advocates
Wed, 01 Feb 2023 09:41:00 +0000
TMID Editorial: A dangerous precedent
The government’s ample majority in Parliament enabled it to change the Standards Commissioner’s Act the way it wanted to.
On Monday, the House of Representatives voted in favour of what has become known as the anti-deadlock mechanism for the appointment of the Standards Commissioner.
From now onwards the government – any government – can proceed with the appointment of a Standards Commissioner even without the support of a 2/3 majority in the House.
The new mechanism establishes that if this 2/3 majority is not reached the government can go ahead and appoint someone via a simple majority. In a nutshell, it can choose whoever it wants without the support of the Opposition.
It is a dangerous precedent.
Although it has been made clear that this change only affects the appointment of the Standards Commissioner, it has opened the way for other positions to be filled up in the same way if, in the future, a 2/3 majority cannot be reached.
Malta has been without a Standards Commissioner since the end of September, when incumbent George Hyzler resigned to take up the role of Malta’s representative on the European Court of Auditors.
Hyzler set the bar very high. In his four years in the post – one year fewer than the full term – his judgments were exemplary. If a breach was committed, he was not afraid to deem so; if the complaints were trivial, he just said so. His office was one of the few Maltese institutions that functioned properly in the past years.
Maybe this is why the government wanted him out. Maybe this is why the government has been so stubborn in the way it has behaved in the nomination of his successor.
It is likely that the new Standards Commissioner will not get the backing of the whole House of Representatives. That would mean that he or she will start on the wrong foot.
It would have been better for the government to propose other changes pertaining to the function of the Standards Commissioner and how his reports are dealt with.
Too often, in Hyzler’s time, reports he compiled and decisions he took found a brick wall. It is not right, for example, that action recommended in such reports has to be approved by a committee made up of two members from each side of the House, with the Speaker acting as chairman. MPs will always defend those on their side, and this meant that breaches by their colleagues were treated very lightly, if at all.
When the commissioner embarrassed a government member through his reports, the committee ended up defending the MP, rather than take serious action against him or her. This is why it has been suggested that the composition of the committee that deals with reports compiled by the Standards Commissioner should be revised, and that a former judge should head such a committee, rather than the Speaker. So far, this suggestion has not been accepted.
Wed, 01 Feb 2023 09:39:00 +0000
Alec Baldwin faces involuntary manslaughter charge in set death
Prosecutors linked Alec Baldwin to an expansive list of alleged failures in firearms safety as they filed a felony involuntary manslaughter charge Tuesday against the actor in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on a New Mexico movie set.
Halyna Hutchins died shortly after being wounded during rehearsals at a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe on Oct. 21, 2021. Baldwin was pointing a pistol at Hutchins when the gun went off, killing her and wounding the director, Joel Souza.
Baldwin and film-set weapons supervisor Hannah Gutierrez-Reed face charges of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Hutchins on the set of the Western movie “Rust.”
A manslaughter charge can be brought for a killing that occurs while a defendant is doing something lawful but dangerous and is acting negligently or without caution.
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed maintain their innocence and have vowed to fight the charges.
In newly filed court documents, prosecutors say reckless safety failures accompanied the film production from the outset. They cite Baldwin's failure as an actor to appear for mandatory firearms training prior to filming and his decision as a producer to work with Gutierrez-Reed, who was an uncertified and inexperienced armorer.
A probable cause statement from investigators traces safety failures across a 10-day period from misfires on set and a camera crew walkout to the moments before Hutchins' death as a revolver was loaded with ammunition and Baldwin's finger came to rest on the pistol's trigger.
“Baldwin's deviation from known standards, practices and protocol directly caused the fatal death of Hutchins,” Robert Shilling, a special investigator for the Santa Fe district attorney’s office, said in the probable cause statement.
Baldwin’s attorney Luke Nikas declined to comment Tuesday and referred to a previous statement in which he called the charges a “terrible miscarriage of justice” that he and his client would fight and win.
“Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the movie set,” the statement said. “He relied on the professionals with whom he worked.”
Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney said they would release a statement later.
Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies told The Associated Press in a Jan. 19 interview that the set was “really being run pretty fast and loose” and Baldwin should have known there were previous misfires on the set and multiple people had brought up safety concerns. She also highlighted Baldwin as the person "that held the gun, that pointed the gun and that pulled the trigger.”
With charges filed on Tuesday, Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will be issued a summons to appear in court, possibly by remote webcast. Prosecutors will forgo a grand jury and rely on a judge to determine if there is sufficient evidence to move toward trial. A decision could take up to 60 days.
The manslaughter charges against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed include two alternative standards and sanctions.
One version would require proof of negligence, which is punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine under New Mexico law.
The second alternative is reckless disregard of safety “without due caution and circumspection.” It carries a higher threshold of wrongdoing and includes a “firearm enhancement” that could result in a mandatory five years in prison because the offense was committed with a gun.
A jury may decide which definition of manslaughter to pursue, prosecutors said.
Defense litigator Kate Mangels, whose work includes the entertainment sector, said prosecutors submitted a robust analysis of Baldwin's safety responsibilities as actor and producer on “Rust.”
“The fact that they separated out Alec Baldwin the actor versus Alec Baldwin the producer shows to me that they're potentially foreseeing a challenge to his culpability as to either of those roles,” said Mangles, who is based in Santa Monica, California. “So they want to differentiate ... and provide a robust analysis of both of those separately.”
Investigators said reckless safety failures culminated when Baldwin drew a revolver from a holster, pointed it at Hutchins and fired the weapon when a plastic or replica gun should have been used by industry standards.
Photos and videos of the rehearsal, including moments before the deadly shooting, showed Baldwin with his finger inside the trigger guard and on the trigger while “manipulating” the pistol’s hammer, investigators said, noting that an FBI analysis shows the pistol could not be fired without pressing the trigger.
Baldwin, who has described the killing as a tragic accident, said he was told the .45-caliber revolver was safe. The 64-year-old actor has sought to clear his name by suing people involved in handling and supplying the loaded gun.
Baldwin said in his lawsuit that, while working on camera angles with Hutchins, he pointed the gun in her direction and pulled back and released the hammer of the weapon, which discharged.
Defense attorney Jason Bowles, who represents Gutierrez-Reed, said the charges are the result of a “flawed investigation” and an “inaccurate understanding of the full facts.”
The decision to charge Baldwin marks a stunning turn of events for an A-list actor whose 40-year career included the early blockbuster “The Hunt for Red October” and a starring role in the sitcom “30 Rock,” as well as iconic appearances in Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed” and a film adaptation of David Mamet’s “Glengary Glen Ross.” In recent years, Baldwin was known for his impression of former President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live.”
Prosecutors said a proposed plea agreement signed by assistant director David Halls, who oversaw safety on set, has not yet been approved by a judge and cannot be published.
Halls had agreed to plead guilty in the negligent use of a deadly weapon, explaining that he may have handled the gun improperly before it was given to Baldwin, prosecutors said.
Wed, 01 Feb 2023 09:29:00 +0000
EU lawmakers move to lift immunity of scandal suspects
An influential committee at the European Union’s parliament voted unanimously on Tuesday to lift the protective immunity of two lawmakers being sought by Belgian authorities on suspected links to a major corruption scandal.
The European Parliament’s legal affairs committee decided by 23 votes to zero, with no abstentions, to lift the parliamentary immunity of Belgian lawmaker Marc Tarabella and Italian Andrea Cozzolino, its chairman, Adrian Vazquez Lazara, announced on Twitter.
The move paves the way for the full house to vote on whether to remove their protections on Thursday so that the two men, who are members of the center-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D) political group hardest hit by the scandal, can be questioned by Belgian prosecutors.
Hundreds of thousands of euros (dollars) were seized in raids across Brussels in December. Four people were charged with corruption, money laundering and membership in a criminal organization for allegedly accepting bribes from Qatari and Moroccan officials to influence parliamentary proceedings.
They are S&D lawmaker Eva Kaili, who was an assembly vice president until the charges came to light; her partner and parliamentary assistant Francesco Giorgi; former S&D lawmaker Pier Antonio Panzeri, and the head of a charity group, Niccolo Figa-Talamanca. Qatar and Morocco deny any involvement.
The request by prosecutors for parliament to lift the immunity of Tarabella and Cozzolino suggests that they too could be charged. Both men deny wrongdoing and have said they are willing to talk to investigators.
A lawyer for Panzeri’s wife and daughter, who were also being sought over suspected links to what's one of the EU’s biggest-ever scandals, said Monday that they had been freed from house arrest after Belgian authorities abandoned their attempt to have the two transferred for questioning.
The two women have accepted to meet freely with investigators at an as-yet undetermined date. The decision in Brussels came days after Panzeri agreed to become an informant in exchange for a lighter sentence, pledging to name names and detail financial arrangements with those involved.
Wed, 01 Feb 2023 09:27:00 +0000
Foreign workers paid over €202 million in social security contributions in 2021
Social security contributions by non-Maltese persons reached over €202 million in 2021, which increased six-fold since 2012.
This information was tabled in parliament on Tuesday by Finance Minister Clyde Caruana in reply to a question by Nationalist MP Ryan Callus.
The figures show that non-Maltese workers have paid to over €1 billion in social contributions since 2012.
The figures reflect the increased foreign workforce since 2014 which acted as the basis of the government's economic growth strategy. In fact, the first significant increase happened between 2014 to 2015 when social security contributions increased by under €14 million. Then this rose, even more, each year.
Even during the pandemic, from 2019 to 2020, there was just under a €20 million increase.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 20:03:00 +0000
Over 280,000 fines issued by LESA in 2022
The Local Environmental Safety Agency (LESA) issued 280,726 fines between 1 January and 20 December 2022.
This information emerged in Parliament on Tuesday, when Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri responded to a question asked by Nationalist MP Ivan Bartolo.
The 2022 figure is less than the 342,725 fines that were issued in 2021, however, similar to the 261,280 fines issued in 2020.
Out of the issued tickets in 2022, 16,879 of these were contested. Out of these, 5,211 petitions were accepted, 141 were partially accepted, 10,548 were not, and 979 decisions are still pending.
In 2021 there were 26,498 fines contested and in 2020 there were 17,477.
The tribunal also heard 4,119 cases in 2022, where 2,578 were found not guilty and 1,541 were guilty.
In 2021 there were 12,126 cases heard by the tribunal and in 2020 there were 6,669 cases heard.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 19:36:00 +0000
Builders and contractors should be licensed – PN MP
Nationalist MP Albert Buttigieg said that builders and contractors should be licensed.
He spoke in Parliament as MPs were discussing an amendment to the Criminal Code that will authorize the involvement of the Occupational Health and Safety Authority in magisterial inquirues arising out of industrial accidents or incidents happening at a place of work.
The role of the Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OHSA) is to oversee workplace safety. To date, the OHSA can investigate cases but it is not involved in the magisterial inquiry appointed to every incident in the workplace. The magisterial inquiry collects and protects necessary evidence and determines whether any specific person or persons may be arraigned.
The PL insisted that this will not affect the process of the magisterial inquiry, it will only be aiding the process of the magisterial inquiry.
However, the PN has said that this proposed bill is "half-baked" and "dangerous" as it would allow external interference in the magisterial inquiry process which could compromise the rights of both victims and the accused. The PN emphasised the importance of maintaining independence during the magisterial inquiry process.
Buttigieg pointed out how other professions such as lawyers and doctors all need licensing, however, builders and contractors do not need it, even though people's lives depend on them.
He also said there is a course at MCAST which should become obligatory for all builders and contractors.
When talking about the number of pending magisterial inquiries, he said that there is an agreement from both sides of the House that there is a backlog open magisterial inquiries for injuries and fatalities.
Buttigieg also insisted that the number of fatalities should not only be seen as a statistic, because behind every death there is a family that is traumatised.
He added that more human resources are needed to deal with cases.
"Justice delayed is justice denied."
He said that if the government believes that there is a need for more of this kind of work, the government needs to make sure that professionals are carrying out this work.
He pointed out that the almost 4400 inspections that the OHSA carried out last year were not enough and more needed to be done. He compared this to 2001 when there were over 9000 inspections, during a time when less development was taking place.
He also said that spot checks need to be more frequent, and therefore, it should be an obligation that an OHSA official is on construction sites with a checklist to make sure everything is in order.
PL MP Ray Abela pointed out how 6000 skill cards have been granted to workers who have undertaken the basic course since the Building Industry Consultative Council launched the skills card.
He also said that besides the inspections the OHSA carried out in 2022, it issued almost 600 notices to improve health and safety, and almost 700 notices to stop works being carried out.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 18:53:00 +0000
More than 500 domestic violence cases in 2022
There were a total of 513 cases of victims of domestic violence in 2022, data tabled in Parliament by family Minister Michael Falzon showed
The minister said that Aġenzija Appoġġ doesn't investigate reports, but rather offers support to victims who come forward.
Falzon was replying to a parliamentary question by PN MP Bernice Bonello.
Data showed the number domestic violence victims of various ages for the years 2012 to 2022.
In 2012 there were a total of 520 females and 17 males, in 2013 531 females and 15 males, in 2014 516 females and 19 males, in 2015 there were 520 females and 17 males, in 2016 there were 457 females and 10 males, in 2017 there were 490 females and 17 males, in 2018 there 603 females and 62 males.
However from 2019 till 2021 there was a drastic increase in numbers as in 2019 there were 926 females and 223 males, in 2020 there were 1060 females and 230 males, in 2021 there were 924 females and 175 males.
In 2022, the number of victims almost halved and went back to what the average was before 2019 with 421 females and 92 males.
In his explanation Falzon said that that when contacted Agenzija Appogg does a risk assessment from which a personalised action plan is derived.
Additionally another risk assessment is also carried out within 24 of police receiving the report, after which a social worker is allocated to the case.
The minister said that when a victim contacts the agency, a risk assessment is carried out and the victim is guided to file a report with the police, and a medical reports in cases where they would have injuries as a result of abuse.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 18:32:00 +0000
Positive Parenting Malta launches legal training programme in custodial matters
Positive Parenting Malta has launched plans to implement a programme that would help foster awareness about custodial arrangements among judicial professionals who work with families and children.
In the last few months, specialized training was already given to judicial members who have direct contact with children, namely child lawyers and mediators. Over the course of a few weeks, an online training course aimed at increasing their awareness and sensitivity on the subject will also take place.
These details were announced during a press conference by the Minister for Social Policy and Children's Rights, Michael Falzon, and the Minister for Justice, Jonathan Attard, where they provided details on how the cooperative venture between these two ministries is leading to new initiatives, which they say are necessary in light of new social realities.
Both pointed out that this is also another electoral promise of this government which will be implemented to strengthen the legal safeguards that protect the interests of children and both parents, even in cases where the two parents do not live together.
Positive Parenting Malta presented a study showing how to create a more positive culture within families, as well as showing how they can assist families directly.
Through similar interventions, Positive Parenting Malta sought to show how they can reduce conflict between parents and strengthen the relationship between children and both sides, especially with the parent who does not have much time with the children, even by court decision.
These circumstances often directly affect members of the family and sometimes the children. Consequently, cases like these can lead to anxiety, tension, and even pressure on the whole family.
Falzon stated that we ought to embrace the concept of 'shared parenting', with the aim that children receive the love and care that they need from both parents, even if the parents are separated.
He also stated that the government is implementing various initiatives that increase the awareness of crucial concepts, such as that of Parental Alienation, to prevent situations where children suffer, to the detriment of one parent or the other.
Attard went on to state that, as a government, they firmly believe in providing the requisite resources so that those involved in the legal process would be equipped to handle their affairs in an optimal manner.
In light of such considerations, Attard said that it was imperative for judges, mediators, and child lawyers to receive various training sessions on the concept of 'shared parenting', based on the international literature and scientific evidence.
Attard stated that this training must be comprehensive and also used by lawyers practicing in the family court.
The Chairperson of Positive Parenting Malta, Ruth Sciberras, explained that the taskforce will address specific issues that affect family dynamics.
It will not only provide training sessions for professionals working in the judiciary, but also for others who work directly with families in government agencies.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 17:37:00 +0000
MFA Executive Board turns down Joseph Portelli’s request to register as a player
Joseph Portelli’s bid to be registered as a Hamrun Spartans player has been turned down by The Malta Football Association’s (MFA) Executive Board.
In a statement, the MFA said: "The Malta FA Executive Board met today to discuss the request by Ħamrun Spartans FC to register Mr Joseph Portelli as a professional player following his resignation from the post of club president. The recommendation of the Ethics and Compliance Committee not to accept the registration was confirmed by the Executive Board, which is ultimately the competent body to decide on such matters on the basis of the Association's Reputational Risk Management Policy."
"The decision is subject to appeal."
Yesterday, the Hamrun Spartans Football Club had presented Portelli’s resignation from the post of club President. The resignation had to take place before the club could attempt to register him as a player. Malta’s football rules dictate that it is not possible for a president to be registered as a player.
Last April, Portelli had played for Nadur Youngsters in a 1-1 draw against Kercem Ajax. He scored Nadur’s equalising goal from the penalty spot.
He had played football competitively in Gozo with Nadur when he was much younger, but had stopped the sport due to other personal commitments.
Portelli is a well-known developer whose projects have created environmental controversies in the past years.
Portelli’s companies, apart from sponsoring Hamrun, are also sponsors of Nadur Youngsters, where Portelli’s son serves as president, Qala Saints and, in waterpolo, San Giljan ASC.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 17:11:00 +0000
Karl Cini refuses to answer all questions in PAC session
Nexia BT partner Karl Cini today chose not to reply to any of the questions he was asked during a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing on Tuesday afternoon.
The PAC is examining the Auditor General’s report on contracts awarded to Electrogas Ltd by Enemalta. The company had won the tender to build and operate a gas power station and LNG terminal.
Cini was asked to testify as Nexia BT was on the financial committee that had evaluated proposals submitted for the project.
“My client will not exercise a right to not incriminate himself, but a right to silence,” Cini’s lawyer Stephen Tonna Lowell said at the start of the session.
Nationalist MP Darren Carabott said that the Speaker already ruled on situations like this, after former Minister Konrad Mizzi had also refused to answer questions put to him when testifying before the same committee in the previous legislature.
Carabott insisted that Cini can only choose not to respond to questions that could incriminate him. All other questions had to be answered.
Tonna Lowell maintained that his client has a right to remain silent, and that this is a basic human right.
Carabott asked a string of questions about the tender process and Nexia BT’s involvement in the Electrogas project.
To each one, Cini replied: “I exercise my right to silence.”
“Didn’t you feel that there was a conflict of interest when Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi were clients of Nexia BT while Nexia BT was chosen as a consultant for the tender?”
“I exercise my right to silence.”
Carabott said he will report what happened in the session to the Speaker of the House before Tuesday’s parliamentary sitting. “Then it’s up to the Speaker to take the necessary steps”.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 15:33:00 +0000
Maltese teenager with rare eye condition accepted for clinical trial in China
An 18-year-old Maltese man with a rare condition in his eyes (LHON disease) has been accepted to take part in a clinical trial with 9 other patients in a hospital in Hubei Province in China.
This could be done because of an agreement that the National Alliance for the Support of Rare Diseases signed with the Chinese authorities with the help of the Chinese Embassy in Malta.
This was announced by Michelle Muscat, President of the National Alliance for the Support of Rare Diseases, at the launch of the Annual Campaign for Rare Disease Awareness for this year, in the Parliament building.
Muscat said that while no one should be filled with too much hope, this step is offering a glimpse of hope where there was no hope. This clinical trial includes the administration of a drug whose market price is approximately $850,000. The medicine will be given free of charge by the Chinese authorities to the Maltese patient through the agreement signed by the National Alliance for the Support of Rare Diseases.
Through this same agreement, therapy will be provided to patients who are members of the Alliance at the Mediterranean Centre for Traditional Chinese Medicine in Kordin, with a group of 24 people starting in the coming weeks.
Muscat said that this year's Rare Disease Awareness campaign will focus mostly on schools to convey information about these conditions and show the value of careers in medicine, science and research. To do this, the first book on rare diseases aimed at primary school students will also be launched.
The Alliance, Muscat continued, is pleased to note that in recent months the Government has started to take action and hopes that the NGO is invited in discussions on a National strategy on rare diseases. The Alliance looks forward to sitting around a table with the Government to discuss all this.
“There is a need for a strategy at both Maltese and European level, which serves to ensure that patients have access to the best treatment, care and research. At the same time, there is still a need for more awareness among those who make decisions about the importance of a holistic attitude, which can be measured according to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations”, emphasised Muscat.
The Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia also addressed the event, saying that the fact that despite Malta’s size as a country, those who are sick receive care for free. This, he said, shows how the Maltese people is a truly merciful one which takes care of the sick.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 15:07:00 +0000
Hunters’ association claims educators creating ‘social hatred’ against hunting
A hunters’ association which has been at the centre of a controversy following a financing it obtained from the Gozo Ministry to organise an exhibition in State schools is now claiming that educators have shown prejudice against “this part of our culture”.
Organisations such as BirdLife and the Malta Union of Teachers have expressed their disdain at the holding of the exhibition by the Kaccaturi San Ubertu.
In an open letter to the Prime Minister, the association, which claims to have close to 3,000 members, highlighted what it said was “discrimination against an informative and educational exhibition organized by us in schools about the traditional culture of sustainable hunting and live-capture which above all informs about the valuable work of the enthusiast in favour of the environment, what is good and what is bad and reprehensible.”
We received the funds from the Ministry for Gozo after a call for such purpose. Also the Minister of Education approved this initiative after the exhibition material, which we are attaching to this letter, was approved by the Minister of Education, the hunters said.
“The reaction to this exhibition according to public statements by BirdLife Malta, the Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) and other entities clearly show the opposition of educators towards this part of our culture being conveyed to children and that it is being shunned in schools. This fact creates a prejudice and an orchestrated indoctrination in children who ultimately at the age of sixteen are entitled to vote on this culture,” the association contended.
“Such statements confirm without any doubt a clear indication of an institutionalized prejudice in our schools against any form of factual information about hunting and live-capture since Birdlife Malta took over environmental studies in 1994 and that our sector has been complaining about for years,” it told the PM.
“We believe that no one, even more so the educator, has the right to deny factual information or to condition minds according to a stated agenda. We also believe that like any other recognized legal sector, our education system should not discriminate or indoctrinate against our traditional culture of legal and sustainable hunting and live-capture through teaching entrusted to an organization that has a declared anti-hunting agenda.
“The environmental education of our children has for a long time been entrusted to the hands of BirdLife Malta who openly declare their opposition to hunting and live-capture and fail to distinguish or educate between EU endorsed legal and sustainable hunting and those illegal acts that even the sector condemns. This mentality is even reflected in certain exam questions through their environmental program Dinja Wahda in schools .
“This discrimination in schools resulted in years of indoctrination against hunting and live-capture which only resulted in social hatred against our sector and polarity in the Maltese public due to a campaign orchestrated to accommodate the agenda of an anti-hunting organization that now even openly rejects educational and factual information being made available to children.
“As parents and on behalf of other children who are being conditioned to oppose this culture, we appeal to your good sense of judgment and leadership by ensuring that every legal aspect of Maltese culture and tradition, including the culture of -hunt and find will no longer be excluded from our educational system in what is now a biased effort orchestrated to oppose it by those who are supposed to ensure an all inclusive education in our schools.
“We are confident that in this state of affairs, through your intervention, a substantial sector of society that practices or supports this legal and sustainable part of our traditional and sociocultural heritage will be given recognition in schools without the long-existing prejudice.”
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 13:46:00 +0000
Children in armed conflict, climate change among Malta’s UN Security Council Presidency priorities
The use of children in armed conflicts is one of the main priority issues which will be brought up during Malta’s Presidency of the United Nations Security Council, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade Ian Borg announced.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Borg spoke of how Malta, starting from Wednesday 1 February, will hold the Presidency of the United Nations Security Council for the whole month.
He said that Malta will hold the same position in April 2024.
Delving further into the topic of the use of children in armed conflicts, Borg said that the aim is to seek ways in which these children can be protected. There will be specialised focus groups of children who have been given asylum in Malta, where they are going to be asked what their experience was together with ways in which they think such children should be assisted when they get out of the war zone.
“This is an important day where we are going to continue collectively promote international peace and prevent conflict,” the Minister said.
He added that the priorities to be discussed during the coming presidency revolve around many sectors, because “right now around the world there world there is a lot of conflict.”
Another topic which is going to be discussed is climate and oceans “on which Malta was the first to bring forward the topic with the UN back in the 1960s.”
He added that since then the topic has evolved, as now there is more material to work with, such as the rising sea levels across the world.
On the matter he said that this can become a threat to national security as new borders would need be discussed since the country’s territory would be changing.
Another theme that is on the agenda is women’s role in achieving peace and security.
Mentioning the war in Ukraine, the minister said that since events are always happening, change is always constant, “however the war is going to be given all the necessary and needed attention.”
“When you [Malta as a country] assume 97 per cent of all votes from the Security Council apart from the national interest, there is also the interest of the international community,” he said.
On the matter he said that Malta together with other UN members need to prioritise what is necessary for its “people and countries”, while also appealing that the Ukrainian war needs to change.
He said that the UN knows Malta’s direction for diplomacy and members have agreed to deliver accordingly.
On the 23 February, Malta will be present for the annual briefing between Europe and the UN, whilst the following day (24 February) which marks the first anniversary “since Russia decided to invade Ukraine”, there is going to be a discussion held on ways in which this war can be tackled efficiently.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 12:26:00 +0000
Malta drops to 54th place on Corruption Perceptions Index, same rank as Saudi Arabia, Rwanda
Malta dropped a few rankings on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) from last year.
The CPI ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption on a scale of zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).
For the year 2021, Malta had a score of 54, ranking the country in 49th place out of 180 countries.
In this year's release index, which is for the year 2022, Malta's score was 51, and the country dropped in the rankings to 54th place.
Two other countries are also in 54th place - Saudi Arabia and Rwanda.
The index read the following about Malta: "Malta (score of 51) continues its downward CPI trend. Recommendations from the public inquiry into the assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia are yet to be implemented in legislation, with continued concerns for media freedom and political interference in public media and for the fight against organised crime. A state of impunity persists with no convictions in cases of high-level corruption. Greater independence and resourcing of the Maltese justice system is needed to uphold the rule of law."
In terms of Malta's region - 'Western Europe & EU', Transparency International says: "with an average score of 66 out of 100, Western Europe and the European Union (EU) is once again the top-scoring region in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)." However, "progress has stagnated in the majority of countries for more than a decade. Across Western Europe and the EU, the changing security landscape since Russia's fullscale invasion of Ukraine and a looming recession both demand robust responses from governments. However, undue influence over decision-making, poor enforcement of integrity safeguards and threats to the rule of law are undermining governments' effectiveness. The region is at a crossroads. To overcome the current crises and deliver progress for the people, decision-makers need to go beyond piecemeal anti-corruption measures."
"The 2022 CPI reveals that anti-corruption efforts have stagnated in more than half of countries for more than a decade. Out of 31 countries in the region, only six have improved their scores while seven have declined. Top scorers in 2022 were Denmark (CPI score: 90), Finland (87) and Norway (84). Worst performers were again Romania (46), Bulgaria (43) and Hungary (42). Ten countries have recorded their lowest-ever scores, including United Kingdom (73), which has dropped five points since last year."
The countries ranked lower than Malta in the EU are Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.
As for the wider world, the CPI global average remains unchanged at 43 for the eleventh year in a row, and more than two-thirds of countries have a serious problem with corruption, scoring below 50.
Tue, 31 Jan 2023 06:02:00 +0000
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