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Ipprovduti minn: Times of Malta

Rapporti li ġew mniżżla fil-: 27/04/2017 20:34:56

PN approves coalition with Marlene Farrugia's Democratic Party

The executive of the Nationalist Party has unanimously approved a coalition agreement with the Democratic Party, which is headed by former Labour MP Marlene Farrugia. The Democratic Party candidates will contest the forthcoming general election on the PN list, forming what the PN described as Forza Nazzjonali (National Force) Coalition talks started in September when PN leader Simon Busuttil said the PN was open to all those who wished to work together to give Malta a new government that was clean and honest, the PN said. Dr Busuttil in a statement today said the country could no longer remain in a situation where the prime minister was under criminal investigation. The details of the coalition agreement will be given tomorrow morning.
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PN approves five more election candidates

Five candidates for the general election have been approved by the executive of the Nationalist Party, raising the number of candidates so far to 93. The new candidates are Ruben Teeling, Ray Bugeja, Maria Deguara, Edward Torpiano and David Stellini. PN leader Simon Busuttil thanked all candidates for their commitment to giving the people the country they deserved.
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Skaters call for removal of billboards at Msida park

Skaters risk getting injured every time they whirl off ramps at the Msida skatepark as billboards have been set up close to the half-pipes there. Two billboards were put up some months ago to the surprise of the many skaters who visit the park regularly. The billboards pose a danger to the skaters as they are too close to the spot where those on skateboards and bicycles land. No applications for any such billboards at the skatepark could be traced through the Planning Authority s map server and questions sent to the authority remained unanswered by the time of writing. Meanwhile, an online petition by skaters calling for consultation on the proper placement of billboards has over 500 signatures. The petition is calling on the authorities to ensure that the safety of those using the park is taken into consideration before any such structures are installed. The Msida skatepark has been in a poor state for years. Two or three times a year we spend days or even weeks making phone calls to the respective authorities to see what is going to be done about lights not working, overflowing bins and other maintenance issues, skater Julian Delia said. He said this was not the first time...
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Malta-born Australian and his wife stranded in Canada after being refused US re-entry

A Malta-born Australian man and his wife were left stranded in Canada when US border authorities cancelled his visa and refused him entry into the United States, Australian media has reported. David Sciberras was travelling in the United States with his wife Renate. They interrupted their US trip with a visit to Canada, but he was then refused re-entry to the US - days after President TrumpTrump gave US Border Security more power to deny entry. The couple up having to give up two weeks of their holiday and fly home. Mrs Sciberras told 7 News that they arrived in Los Angeles on March 28 and had no entry problems. They spent two weeks travelling along the US West Coast before crossing to Canada, visiting Toronto and Montreal. They had then planned to fly to New York and spend another two weeks travelling down the East Coast to Miami and had already booked and paid for accommodation, a baseball game and a seven-day Caribbean cruise, along with their flight home from Miami. But Mr Sciberras, travelling on an Australia passport, was stopped at Montreal and denied re-entry to the US. The couple found that his Electronic System Travel Authorisation (ESTA), approved in November, had...
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Inspectors stop work after workers ignore basic safety precautions

Officials of the Occupational Health and Safety Authority acted promptly this afternoon and stopped work on an apartment in Birkirkara after workers ignored basic safety precautions. A reader who sent the picture above, in John Borg Street, Birkirkara, said the workers were not wearing a harness and the planks they stand on did not appear to be secured. A spokesman for the OHSA said work had been stopped and the workers and their employers are being questioned. Anybody witnessing perilous jobs is urged to call the Occupational Health and Safety Authority on 2124 7677.
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Gozitans are better off with Vitals-run hospital, minister says

Gozitans are better off with the Gozo hospital run by Vitals, Health Minister Chris Fearne said this afternoon. He was reacting to comments by Opposition leader Simon Busuttil, who yesterday criticised the government for handing over the hospital to Vitals. Dr Busuttil promised that under a PN government, the hospital would be brought back into government hands. Mr Fearne said the Opposition leader wanted to turn back the clock in the health sector. He said that the government had big plans for the health sector in Gozo, unlike Dr Busuttil who wanted to take patients back to a time when resources at the hospital were limited and service offered was an inferior one. In 2013, this government found a hospital that was worse than those found in third world countries, Mr Fearne said, holding up photos of the state of the hospital at the time. The bathrooms were in a disgusting state, he went on, pointing out also that basic equipment was full of rust . Thanks to the arrangements made by the government with Vitals, the old hospital was being replaced by a new one of 350 beds, with new operating theatres, a bigger hyperbaric unit, a new pharmacy, new ITU and CCU, a PET scanner,...
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Moody's hails financial surplus success

The Finance Ministry has welcomed a report by Moody's Research Pool about the surplus registered by Malta. The report, entitled 'Malta's surprise 2016 budget surplus is credit positive,' was published earlier today. The report says that "the surplus is credit positive because it accelerates the decline in the Maltese government's debt burden, and confirms that debt has fallen below the European Commission's (EC) 60% Maastricht threshold one year earlier than forecast." The credit rating agency points to various factors which brought about this success, including increased tax revenue despite a reduction in tax rates, the performance of tourism, and the citizenship programme. The report also says that "the Maltese authorities have been successful in reducing public expenditures by around 1.4%, despite increased costs associated with Malta hosting the EC presidency this year (estimated at around 54 million, or 0.5% of GDP in 2016-17), which bodes well for containing expenditure over the course of this year."
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Keith Schembri logs on PN's website for volunteers

Keith Schembri, the prime minister's chief of staff, found time today to log into the PN website which receives applications for volunteers, the PN said. He then 'lied' to his Facebook friends when displayed an automated reply issued to all applicants. He never said he was actually the one who applied, the PN added. It said it would have been better had Mr Schembri found time to answer journalists' questions about the serious claims made about him. The PN said it was open for everyone, but its door was closed to Mr Schembri.
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Hunter threatened to disfigure Birdlife activist

Details of an unpleasant incident in April 2014 when a Birdlife activist accompanying a BBC crew headed by naturalist Chris Packham during the filming of a documentary in Mi ieb were revealed in court today as criminal proceedings against Nimrod Mifsud, a Birdlife activist from G ira, entered the final phase. Following the incident, Mr Mifsud was charged with trespassing and with having exercised a pretended right when the trip to Mi ieb ended with an unpleasant twist. Mr Mifsud, a lifelong member of Birdlife and a strong opponent to spring hunting, today took the witness stand to recall how on two occasions on April 23 and 25, 2014, he had accompanied Mr Packham and a BBC crew to Mi ieb and l-A rax tal-Mellie a. The TV team had travelled to Malta to shoot the documentary 'Massacre on Migration' intended to reveal the atrocities of spring hunting. Setting out from the heritage trail at Mi ieb on April 23, the crew, accompanied by Mr Mifsud and two journalists, followed the path leading to the garigue and woodland. At no time did they open any gate or scale any wall to trespass over private land, Mr Mifsud told the court. At one point, a police inspector approached the group and,...
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Editor wants telecom companies to investigate leak of data to Caruana Galizia

MaltaToday managing editor Saviour Balzan has submitted a complaint to telecoms companies Vodafone and GO, demanding they investigate what he said was a breach of personal data from their companies and determine the source of the breach. Details of Mr Balzan s call logs, referring to calls between Mr Balzan and the chief of staff of the Prime Minister, Keith Schembri, were revealed on Daphne Caruana Galizia s blog. Ms Caruana Galizia wrote yesterday that late on Thursday, Mr Schembri rang Mr Balzan at around 1am and they spoke for 10 minutes. Then on Saturday morning Mr Balzan rang Mr Schembri at around 10am and spoke to him for a few seconds. He rang Mr Schembri again later that day, at 5.30pm, and this time they had a protracted 20-minute conversation. Mr Balzan initially denied the allegation and said he would take legal action, prompting Ms Caruana Galizia to file another entry listing specifics of the calls. In his letter to the telecoms companies, which also includes a complaint to the Data Protection Commissioner, Mr Balzan requested that the companies take immediate action against whoever was found to have been involved in this violation of data protection rules. He also...
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DNCE and Jonas Blue for Isle of MTV

DNCE and chart-topping DJ and producer Jonas Blue will take the stage at this year s Isle of MTV Malta live music festival, joining The Chainsmokers on the Granaries in Floriana on June 27. Making their global debut in 2015, with their triple platinum-selling breakout smash Cake By The Ocean, DNCE (Joe Jonas, Cole Whittle, JinJoo Lee and Jack Lawless) recently took home the win for Best PUSH Artist at the 2016 MTV EMAs and Best New Artist at last year s MTV VMAs. Their self-titled debut album DNCE, released in November 2016, charted internationally and includes the follow-up hit singles, Toothbrush and Body Moves. Their new single Kissing Strangers, features global superstar Nicki Minaj and is currently the most added song at Top 40 radio in the US. 2016 MTV EMA nominee Jonas Blue, took the music industry by storm in last year with his debut single, Fast Car featuring Dakota. Selling over six million records worldwide, it was the biggest selling single globally of the year from a debut British artist. This followed with equally great international success with his second and third dance hits, Perfect Strangers featuring JP Cooper and By Your Side featuring RAYE. Jonas is...
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BOV makes 74m pre-tax profit in six months

The Bank of Valletta Group made a profit before tax of 74 million in the six months ended on 31 March 2017, an increase of 8% over the 68.5 million reported for the same period last year. The board of directors has declared a gross interim dividend of 4.5 cents per share, an increase of 24% over the 3.64 cents declared last year, as adjusted for the bonus share issue made in January 2017. BOV Chairman Deo Scerri explained that the Group's performance should be evaluated within a context of a high-performing local economy, but also a difficult international scenario marked by persisting low interest rates. The current interest rate environment is posing a challenge to all European banks, and BOV's interest margin for the period, which amounted to 72.7 million, showed a decrease of 3% over March 2016. He said the decline in margin income was, however, mostly offset by an increase in net fee income, which rose by 6% to reach 33.8 million. The bank has embarked on a strategy to supplement its core margin income with non-interest revenue streams, and the interim results show that the strategy is starting to bear fruit. The group also recorded a reversal of impairment charges of...
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New war of words between Simon Busuttil, Keith Schembri

A new war of words started today between the Opposition leader and the Prime Minister's chief of staff, with Keith Schembri accusing Simon Busuttil of failing to appear in court to testify in a libel case he had filed against him. In February, Dr Busuttil had appeared in court and asked not to testify in the case before he was given a copy of the speech, on which the libel case was based. He had argued that he could not testify if he did not know what the accusation against him was. His request had been accepted and the case had to continue today. In a statement this afternoon, Mr Schembri accused Dr Busuttil of finding another excuse not to testify in the libel case and opted instead to testify in the inquiry on government corruption. Mr Schembri said that, in doing so, the Opposition leader was at least acknowledging that the inquiry was a serious one. This, he said, was the unscruplous behaviour of someone who made allegations left, right and centre but then refused to answer when it was time to do so. But in a reply, Dr Busuttil said that this morning he spent more than an hour submitting proof of corruption in the citizenship sale scheme before Magistrate Aaron Bugeja. The...
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New vehicle scrappage scheme announced

Transport Malta has announced a new grant scheme on the purchase of new environment-friendly vehicles 515 vehicles have already benefited from the original 400,000 allocated between January and April 2017. Vehicle owners who applied for the scheme were entitled to between 700 and 900 upon the purchase of a new M1 motor vehicle allowed to carry no more than eight passengers in addition to the driver, with CO2 emissions not exceeding 130g/km, length not exceeding 4460mm and licensed for private use only. Owners had to de-registering a vehicle in the same category. Application forms for the scheme are available from Transport Malta, Vehicle Licensing Unit, A3 Towers, Paola or downloaded from http://www.transport.gov.mt/land-transport The scheme in the form of a grant to incentivise the purchase of Battery Electric Vehicles, Hybrid vehicles, and Battery Electric Quadricycles is still applicable.
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PM dismisses calls to step aside

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat this morning dismissed calls to step aside until investigations into allegations on both his wife and chief of staff are carried out, reiterating the claims were baseless lies by the Opposition. Opposition leader Simon Busuttil has in the past days called on Dr Muscat to step down in light of allegations that his chief of staff Keith Schembri took kickbacks from the controversial cash-for-passports scheme. The claims came just days after blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia alleged on her blog that his wife Michelle was the owner of Panama company Egrant. Mr Schembri has denied the allegations. Read: Schembri accused of passport sale kickbacks by Busuttil Asked by the Times of Malta whether he deemed it best to step aside until the investigations were carried out, Dr Muscat said he would not do so simply because the allegations were based on lies by Dr Busuttil. Yesterday we once again started with the tantrums and now not only does Dr Busuttil want to get rid of me but he also wants to send me to jail. This is the situation we are in and all this is a reflection of the Opposition leader s character, Dr Muscat said. Asked for his reaction following...
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New Apostolic Nuncio for Malta appointed

Monsignor Alessandro D Errico, titular Archbishop of Carini and currently Apostolic Nuncio in Croatia, has been appointed new Apostolic Nuncio for Malta. Mgr D Errico was born in Frattamaggiore in Naples, Italy, in 1950. He was ordained priest in 1974 and he was incardinated in the Diocese of Aversa. He studied at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in Rome and joined the Diplomatic Service of the Holy See in 1977. He then served in the Apostolic Nunciature in Thailand, Brazil and Greece. He served within the Prefecture of the Papal Household and later served in the Pontificalrepresentations in Italy and in Poland. As the Apostolic Nuncio in Malta, Archbishop D Errico will represent the Holy Father and the Holy See both with regard to the Catholic Church in Malta and Gozo, as well as to the Civil Authorities. He will also be the dean of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Republic of Malta. It is the duty of the Papal Representative to strengthen the bonds of communion between the Apostolic See and the Catholic Church present in the country where he is posted. He will promote and facilitate relations between the government of Malta and the Holy See.
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Condor launches schedules operations from MIA with Hamburg flight

Malta International Airport s second, new airline kick started its scheduled operations to and from Malta yesterday, with its first scheduled flight from Hamburg. An Airbus A320 bearing Condor s yellow and grey livery, was welcomed at the airport with the traditional water salute yesterday evening. Besides operating biweekly flights on the Hamburg route, Condor will also be strengthening MIA s connection with Frankfurt with flights until October. This hub serves as Condor s main base and is the point of departure of many of the leisure airline s long-haul flights to a good number of destinations in Africa and the Americas. Condor has been in operation since 1956 and is part of the Thomas Cook Group, one of the most well-known names in the travel industry. Operating a fleet of more than 40 aircraft, the airline flies around 7 million passengers annually to some 75 destinations.
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Minimum wage to go up 8 per week by 2019

The minimum wage will increase by 8 per week by 2019, according to an agreement that will be signed tomorrow. The increase, over and above the cost of living adjustment, will equate to more than 400 per year in two year's time, journalists were told a briefing this morning with the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development. The upward adjustment is half of what social campaigners led by Caritas have been asking for. Read: Increasing minimum wage by 80 a month 'won't break economy' Just under 4,000 currently receive the minimum wage, which is 736 a month. Economist Gordon Cordina, who carried out the studies that informed the agreement, said the increase was the furthest the social partners could go for without endangering the country s competitiveness and jobs. He said the increase would not address poverty in its entirety, adding that other measures would have to be taken to target certain pockets. MCESD chairman John Bencini said the social partners held some 20 meetings over the span of a few months to hammer out this agreement. He said it was important that it also enjoyed political consensus. Social Dialogue Minister Helena Dalli noted that the agreement would...
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Government corruption: Busuttil pledges to defend sources even with his own life

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil this morning said he was ready to defend his sources in connection with government's corruption dealings "even with his own life". The PN leader made this pledge soon after presenting evidence to inquiring Magistrate Aaron Bugeja to support his allegations that the Prime Minister's chief of staff Keith Schembri received kickbacks from the sale of Maltese passports. Mr Schembri is denying the claims. Read: Schembri accused of passport sale kickbacks by Busuttil "The Prime Minister is refusing to resign, and this is harming the country's reputation". Asked what was the Opposition's next step if the Prime Minister did not step down, Dr Busuttil said the PN would do what was expected from it on a "political" level. "Malta cannot remain in such situation. Speculation of an early election is rife, which is not normal for a government elected with a majority of 36,000 votes." "The only reason for which the Prime Minister would want to go to the polls is to avoid being questioned by the police," he added. The Opposition leader noted that since last Tuesday's news conference regarding Mr Schembri, he had received new information. However, he would not go...
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Drop in number of people seeking employment

The number of persons registering for employment in March stood at 2,649, 1,384 less than in the same month last year, according to the National Statistics Office. The NSO said that when compared to March 2016, registrants for work decreased irrespective of how long they had been registering. The largest decrease was recorded among persons who had been registering for less than 21 weeks. The number of persons with a disability who were registering for work alsodecreased by 52 to 304. Males accounted for 78.9 per cent of total registrants with a disability. The largest share of males and females on the unemployment register sought occupations as clerical support workers with 18.5 per cent and 38.9 per cent respectively. The registered unemployment rate in October stood at 1.7 per cent of the labour supply, (excluding part-time employment) and varied from two per cent among men to 1.3 per cent among women.
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