The self-employed need to be supported and encouraged to get back on their feet, so as for them to be able to work and strengthen the economy, and not be sent to prison, said Opposition Leader Joseph Muscat, when addressing a political activity in San Ġwann yesterday. “The fact that some 120 people were sent to prison because they did not pay their VAT dues is scandalous,” he said. Everyone must pay taxes which are due, but what are we getting from nailing these self-employed and their families by sending them to prison? We need strong self-employed people to pay taxes and not people in prison for whom others need to pay, he said. Dr Muscat described the fine system for VAT offences as a vindictive one that is leading to institutionalised usury. “This is not social conscience,” he added. Referring to the necessary tests on the new power station machinery which is running on Heavy Fuel Oil and is the subject of much controversy, Dr Muscat said that the results of these will be delayed and will only be available after the general election. The period for such tests was being extended, after the publicity campaign from the PN camp to put people’s minds at rest this fuel is not dangerous.(maltaindependent.com) For the system, paralyzing a worker is stupid.
Cachia Caruana hearings: MPs in heated exchanges on validity of 1996 Security Agreement
PM insists 1996 Security Agreement was not secret and only concerned security of documents. The prime minister and Labour MP George Vella had heated exchanges within the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee this evening as the committee continued to discuss the Opposition motion censuring Ambassador Richard Cachia Caruana over meetings he held in 2004 'behind parliament's back'. The Opposition's motion says that Mr Cachia Caruana discussed Partnership for Peace (PfP) membership behind Parliament's back. The government denies the claims, saying the talks were only about access for Malta to Nato documents and meetings. Much of today's arguments centred on the government's argument (in 2004) that Malta tried to argue its way into Nato-EU security meetings and access to security documents by claiming that a 1996 Security Agreement, signed when Malta joined PfP, was still in force, even though Malta had left PfP. Dr Vella insisted that the agreement was not in force and bringing it to force had needed Parliamentary clearance. Dr Gonzi said the Security Agreement was only about security of documents and was not akin to the sort of security agreement which a Labour government had signed secretly with North Korea. At the beginning of today's meeting, Dr Gonzi tabled documents b to show that the problems for Malta caused by the absence of a Security of Documents Agreement with the EU started in 2003, well before Mr Cachia Caruana was appointed as representative to the EU. The documents, he said, showed the problems Malta had as far back as 2003 - even before joining the EU - because it did not have a Security of Agreements Agreement with Nato. Those problems, he said, started before Mr Cachia Caruana was appointed as Malta's representative to the EU.(timesofmalta.com) The NATO affairs mismanaged can, very dangerous beings.
'Lockerbie bomber' buried, controversy lives on
Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, the only person convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing which killed 270 people, was buried today after he died of cancer, protesting his innocence to the end. Well-wishers held traditional Muslim prayers and paid their respects to Megrahi's family in a subdued ceremony in Janzur, a suburb just west of the capital. "His pain is over now -- he is with God," said Mohammed al-Megrahi, insisting that his brother paid the price for a crime he did not commit. "There never was exact proof," he said. As the body was lowered into the grave, one distraught relative shouted: "He is innocent, he is innocent." Megrahi was found guilty of blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, killing all 259 people on board and another 11 people on the ground. He died yesterday, almost three years after the Scottish government freed him on compassionate grounds following his diagnosis with prostate cancer. Megrahi's death has revived the debate on whether his conviction was flawed and prompted sharply contrasting reactions in Britain and the United States. Much of the controversy hinges over the accuracy of evidence by Maltese shopkeeper Tony Gauci, who identified Megrahi as the man who bought clothes which were wrapped around the bomb which brought down the Pan Am Jumbo over Lockerbie. Megrahi always maintained his innocence, arguing that US agencies "led the way" in securing his conviction.(timesofmalta.com) Justice has held