Updated 1531 – Therese Comodini Cachi touted as Opposition Leader
A number of media sources are reporting that Nationalist MP and former MEP Therese Comodini Cachia will be nominated by her fellow PN MPs to replace leader Adrian Delia as opposition leader. Adrian Delia was subjected to a 19-11 vote of no confidence last Tuesday .
Timesofmalta.com reports taht MPs Chris Said and Claudette Buttigieg are at San Anton Palace to meet President George Vella to trigger the process to replace Delia by declaring they no longer recognise him as their leader and name the lawyer and former MEP in his place.
Once appointed, she will become the first woman to ever take up the role of opposition leader.
Updated 1233 – One new coronavirus case, two recoveries
The Health Department reported that one new, sporadic and asymptomatic case of coronavirus was identified in the past 24 hours. With two persons recovering during the same time frame, the number of active persons has gone down to nine.
Updated 1203 – “Keep wearing masks, keep getting tested” – Prof Gauci
While Malta is no longer under a public emergency, and the COvid-19 situation is under control, the virus should not be forgotten and vigilance should not be reduced, according to Health Superintendent Prof Charmaine Gauci in comments to illum.com.mt.
Gauci appealed for continued use of masks and visors and called on the public to regularly take the Covid-19 tests, even if displaying no symptoms, particularly when meeting people outside one own’s household.
She said that in view of the re-opening of Malta’s airport, the health authorities were prepared to investigate and carry out contact tracing if the need arises.
Updated 0951 – Newspaper Coverage
Business Today speaks to private hospital founder Dr Josie Muscat who said that the deal to transfer state hospitals to Vitals Global Healthcare was ‘blatantly unethical’ from the start, saying the process was rigged.
The Times reveals that a police investigation into the government’s healthcare concession deal with Vitals launched last year will take into consideration the findings of a report by the National Audit Office released this week.
The Independent quotes Prime Minister Robert Abela who said the government will uphold the National Auditor’s report into the hospital deal with Vitals. He insisted, however, that that agreement is not the same contract signed with Steward Healthcare.
The Malta Business Weekly leads with a Chamber of SMEs survey which found that only three in ten businesses are confident they can survive the current economic situation for longer than a year.
In-Nazzjon says that a third of businesses reported a decrease of more than half in sales compared with last year, while another third said they lost as much 90 percent of their business to the coronavirus fallout. The study was conducted by the Chamber of SMEs.
L-Orizzont announces that the General Workers Union has been recognised as the major union representing Cabin Crew and Crew Supervisors employed with Malta-based Ryanair subsidiary Malta Air.
The Independent quotes a letter by PN MPs demanding the resignation of Adrian Delia from leadership. Signed by two members, the letter urges the embattled leader to ‘put the interests of the party and the country’ before his own.
The Times says that PN MPs are waiting for leader Adrian Delia to step down voluntarily. If he fails to do so, the parliamentary group is prepared to ask the President to appoint a new Opposition Leader.
Business Today says that PN MP Claudio Grech is the preferred replacement to Adrian Delia among the 19 members of the parliamentary group who voted against the current leader in a meeting this week.
The Malta Business Weekly reports that President George Vella has cleared his major appointments for the day as the crisis within the Opposition continues to unfold. The President is expecting some form of communication by the PN.
L-Orizzont compares the situation within the Nationalist party to the struggle for the control of the Labour Party between Paul Boffa and Dom Mintoff, seventy years ago. The paper says that Tuesday’s vote by PN MPs could be the final blow for leader Adrian Delia.
In-Nazzjon quotes PN Leader Adrian Delia who said that he is determined to continue serving party members and the electorate by fighting the government’s corruption. He was being interviewed on party media.
Vitals and PN squabbling top agenda
The shady Vitals deal remained on the agenda throughout yesterday. Opposition leader Adrian Delia have called for a criminal investigation into those responsible, following the NAO’s report. Prime Minister Robert Abela had said that he would have “acted differently” had he been responsible at the time the deal was signed.
The police said that they will be including the conclusions drawn in a report by the National Office on the deal concerning the 2015 hospital concession deal in an existing police investigation. The NAO found strong evidence of collusion between government and Vitals.
The NAO found that Vitals Global Healthcare should not have even been allowed to bid because of “collusive behaviour” between the government and the company, through a secret agreement made before the tender was even issued.
Meanwhile, the situation at Tal-Pieta’ remained tense following the vote of no confidence in PN Leader Adrian Delia. While Delia remained defiant on his intention to continue to lead the Party, the 19 who voted to have him removed said in a statement that the previous day’s vote “was a difficult choice that the parliamentary group had to face.”
They insisted that they “want our country to regain normality, to regain its reputation and to re-establish itself as a democracy. For this reason, the country needs a strong opposition party. The Partit Nazzjonalista deserves the chance to regain people’s trust and become an alternative government.”
Sections of the media yesterday also reported that President George Vella made himself available throughout the day in view of the constitutional crisis resulting from the vote of no confidence in the Opposition leader.