According to the Financial Ombudsman, banks, including Lloyds, Barclays and RBS, had been using a regulatory provision called “alternative redress” or “comparative redress” to reduce the amount they repay consumers claiming back PPI refunds. UK media also had their take on the development and claimed that these banks have used the provision since last year, with some even from 2012.

Alternative redress works by allowing banks to assume a consumer with a missing or uncertain PPI policy to be refunded with a regular-premium insurance repayment. However, consumers with single-premium insurance, which are more expensive, were given alternative redress. Former financial expert-now-journalist Cliff D’Arcy said that it was a “scandal out of a scandal” pertaining to mis sold PPI.

PPI is a policy designed to repay loans, mortgages and credit cards in case you get sick, an accident or become unemployed. However, because of its many exceptions, many consumers were unable to make use of the insurance policy. The average regular-premium PPI payout is £2870. Single-premiums cost more.

Observers said that this new scandal may reverse the FCA’s tallied 15% overall reduction of PPI complaints to banks in the second half of 2013.

Consumers are encouraged to look for their PPI complaint information, find if they were given alternative redress and demand a full refund from their banks. Consumers may also contact the Financial Ombudsman in case the banks do not fulfil their responsibilities.

Maltatoday.com has compiled a list of accomplishments and disappointments of the Muscat government in the previous year. The list shows how the government had delivered its goals to the people and how some controversies got in the way of good governance.

According to the Maltatoday writer James Debono, Maltese President Joseph Muscat had delivered on his promises for the Maltese people, including abolishing prescription in corruption cases, signing a Whistleblower Act and the defense of the LGBT community in Malta.

Muscat’s government had also reduced the prices of electricity and introduced free childcare through the effective use of taxes.

However, it also has some shortcomings of its own. Muscat’s government shows signs of inexperience when interacting with the media due to its great number of gaffes. It had also tried to return migrants to Libya despite the action being illegal. The Muscat government had a great number of international embarrassments, such as trying to “sell” the European Citizenship for a high price and untoward insults in social media and the internet.

Overall, the government was well-balanced despite questionable anti-corruption practices regarding the bribery of several Enemalta officials and their amnesty regarding the construction of a bridge. The deliverables and results of proper management had reaped its benefits effectively for Muscat’s Malta.

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Malta’s Immigration had said that it not selling European citizenship to anyone who could afford €650,000, which became controversial among many EU countries and the European Commission condemn the proposal. Although the EU and its Commission allowed the sale of the passports, it was heavily detested by many EU countries because it “cheapened” the citizenship, coveted by other countries.

Malta said that it is changing the original plan of selling the passports and are requiring the migrants must have lived in the Island nation for a year.

According to Malta’s official statement “no certificate of naturalisation will be issued unless the applicant provides proof that he/she has resided in Malta for a period of at least 12 months immediately preceding the day of issuing of the certificate of naturalisation.”

The European Commission suggested to Malta after talks that it should also stress the applicant should have a “genuine link” to the country. Employment or relatives are valid links. According to the EC, the ability to pay is innate with any citizen of a country, which makes it “cheap” just to sell the citizenship to anybody.

Malta’s earlier plans of selling passports for access in the EU was part of a plan to attract other citizens from abroad to bring in billions in euros for the country in the next five years, which could help Malta’s financing develop schools, healthcare and jobs.

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Malta asks other European countries for support as it tries to manage the increase of irregular immigrants reaching the shores of Italy and the country. According to the Malta independent, data included in the European Refugee Fund Annual Programme approved by the European Commission, the country received 1294 total irregular immigrants in July 2013.

Malta’s first issue had been burden sharing. Malta had taken care of the pressure of migration on its own. Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had also noted in his statement to the EU that Greece and Italy are facing similar problems regarding migration.

In the previous week, Maltese and Italian coastal authorities had rescued 233 migrants with some originating from Pakistan and Africa from an overcrowded and unseaworthy boat.

Malta’s government is asking for the setup of a Mediterranean Task Force to approach the problem in a unified and integral manner. The task force was set up in October in the aftermath of the 300-passenger smuggling boat that sunk near the coast of Italy.

Illegal immigrants and human smugglers see Malta as an easy access point for unauthorized entry into Europe. However, these migrants risk expulsion by both Malta and Italy. Both countries, including Greece, are providing for the needs and welfare of the migrants arriving into the country as they wait for the decision to their expulsion or retainment.

 

Two private investigators said that the real bomber behind the 1988 Lockerbie air disaster travelled to Malta before initiating the attack. The investigators noted that Egyptian terrorist Mohammed Abu Taib was behind the attacks and was the one to plant the bomb on the Heathrow plane by bribing na official.

The Lockerbie disaster is considered one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in history. On Saturday, it will be reaching its 25th anniversary.

Right after the Pan Am Flight 103 attack, Libyan national Abdelbaset Al-Megrahl was the only person convicted for the attack. Taib was also arrested in 1989 because he had connections with the bombing.

The connection of Taib to the bombing was discovered by the Swedish secret service, who discovered that he had gone to Malta to meet with a probable Palestinian Terrorist organisation situated in the country.

Megrahl had died in 2012, given a life sentence, the court gave him an early release after eight years for compassion as he had terminal cancer.

The new evidence was submitted to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, who had also concluded that Megrahl suffered a miscarriage of justice for his sentence.

Investigators in Malta, before the attack, had already followed Taib’s movements, but failed to produce results given the lack of evidence.

The European Commission is now investigating why Maltese passports are worth €650,000. The EC said that it is possible Malta and Cyprus governments may face legal sanction. Cyprus passports amount to €3 million.

According to experts, Malta “on Sale” allows anybody with enough money to get a new citizenship without proper examination. They said that any person with a criminal record, regardless how vile, can earn citizenship even if background checks are done.

The EC is concerned about criminals getting a “golden ticket” from Malta to travel anywhere in Europe to conduct illicit activities. Regardless of security emplacements, criminals will have free ability to roam on European soil to use workarounds in going to different places.

In response to this particular action by the EC, Maltese President George Abela said that the government will postpone the implementation of the citizenship sale.

The “on sale” citizenships did not require anybody to have a residency or investment status. Maltese nationalists opposed the law because of their own security concerns and due to the fact that the government will publish the names of those who purchased their citizenships.

According to Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, the citizenship sale was made as part of an effort to ease the country’s deficit by bringing in €30 million yearly.

Source

Hundreds of Syrian refugees were left to drown in the Mediterranean Sea after pirates sunk their boat in failing to pay for passage. According to the refugees, Libyan traffickers left them to drown to their deaths off the coast of Malta after a dispute regarding the payment fees for their passage to Europe this month.

Maltese authorities found the survivors off 160km from Malta’s coast. It is estimated that 400 people were on board the fish boat that left from Libya on October 10 this year.

Survivors said that many people, including women and children, drowned and died in the sea. They estimate that from their unspecified original number that 200 people drowned after they were dumped at sea.

The Syrian civil war had left around two million Syrians displaced from their war-torn country. Neighbouring countries Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan are swelling in numbers as the countries try to house all refugees staying in the country as the civil war wages on.

Refugees in Turkey are currently struggling under the attack of both Syrian regime forces and Islamic fighters linked to the al-Qaeda.

The three countries have brought world attention to the humanitarian conditions of the Syrian refugees in their respective countries. They also explained how their presence is affecting the economies and capabilities each country has during the previous UN General Assembly. The three countries had called on the entire world to help shoulder the burden.

An “extraordinary” number of pilots calling in sick on Tuesday had left Air Malta financially scarred, paying €500,000 in denied boarding compensation to more than 2000 passengers who had their flights delayed in a single day.

According to Air Malta Chief Executive Peter Davies, the “sick calls” of pilots were uncalled for and illogical. He said that the company is still restructuring and its future is not yet secured. The pilots’ evasion of responsibilities had damaged Maltese tourism, the airline’s reputation and irreversible financial damages.

Dominic Azzopardi, the leader of ALPA, the airline’s pilot union, said that the airline had long operated on the perception that none of its pilots will ever report in sick. He said that he had warned the company had missed 16 people in the pilot’s complement. Azzopardi said he was rejected when he wanted to promote six first officers to captain to introduce six new pilots.

Azzopardi is also responsible for ensuring that the pilots are fit for duty, which cleared him of suspected conspiracy against the company. Airlines are not allowed to let pilots who are unfit for duty fly air vehicles.

The ALPA president also added that the Air Malta management did not schedule pilots’ rosters ahead of time properly. Without a proper system, most pilots are only called from standby to come in and fly the airplanes whenever they are available, which is inefficient and unhealthy for pilots.

 

Malta is a tropical country rich with beaches, sights and excursions for tourists and if you’re planning for a great summer vacation getaway, you’ll find it in this country. If it is your first time traveling to the country, here are a few things to help you get started.


1. Boat Trips
Malta features island trips by boat. If you’re looking to see the tropical beauty of its famous islands, notably Comino Island, you could go by the local boat trips offered by companies or even individuals. If you’re staying in popular tourist spots, you could ask the local authorities to help you find a suitable boat trip company.

2. Maltese Bus
The Maltese Bus is the common local transportation used by its many citizens. As a tourist, you could get by to almost everywhere from one town, to a village and to a city. The fare rates are quite low, definitely good news for those travelling on a budget.

3. Village Fiestas
The best way to enjoy Malta is to time it right that a village’s fiesta is happening. This is where you could see the true culture of the Maltese. As a religious country, most villages celebrate a particular Saint’s birthday complete with marching bands, fireworks and a festive mood in every Maltese in the area.

4. Jeep Tours
If you don’t like going on buses, you could go for Malta’s Jeep Tours, which offer extensive routes to specific vacation spots and sights.

Malta’s government refused to accept the 102 migrants who were rescued from a dinghy and left Italy to take in the migrants. Despite EU pressure, Malta’s refusal raised questions of morality and human rights from different organisations.

The survivors escaped from a Salamis oil tanker that was 80 km off the Libyan coast. Malta said that the Salamis tanker was heading for Syracuse in Italy. Malta said that the Italian authorities welcomed the Migrants aboard Salamis and diplomatic contracts between Malta, Italy and Greece were perfectly followed.

However, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat became controversial with his approach to the Salamis incident. Muscat formally announced that the government considered expelling the migrants to avoid EU pressure and “send a message” that Malta is a country with its own sovereignty and capability to make its own decisions.

The EU Affairs Commission said that it was Malta’s “humanitarian duty” in such a situation and their delay had almost breached international law. However, Muscat said that the country fulfilled its international obligations and said in a statement that it will not “intervene for irresponsible boat owners who break laws for their commercial activities”.

The Salamis tanker was heading to Malta with a shipment of oil. Most of the tankers coming from Africa and Libya are vessels operated by traffickers to get to Europe.