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MALTATODAY 13 March 2022

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4 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 13 MARCH 2022 NEWS UKRAINE CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 He said his company, and other suppliers and producers, were in direct contact with the agriculture and finance minis- tries to keep them abreast of any developments since the situa- tion remained fluid and chang- ing on a daily basis. Prime Minister Robert Abela this week announced the gov- ernment would continue to pro- vide financial support "whatever the cost" to ensure energy and fuel prices remain stable despite the Ukraine war. LPG prices also sky-rocketed in the wake of the Russian in- vasion: finance minister Clyde Caruana said the government is expected to budget easily €200 million over and above another €200 million earmarked for the post-COVID response to infla- tion and supply chain disrup- tions. While Abela has promised targeted help for the animal husbandry sector hit by higher costs in animal feed, no mention was made as to whether similar assistance would be provided to wheat and grain importers and local producers. "The problem we are facing is two-fold, logistics and pay- ments," Marco Cachia said. "Be- cause the Black Sea is currently closed off because of the actions of Russian warships, trade ship- ping routes have been disrupted and no wheat is making it out of Russia or Ukraine through that channel." Cachia said his company sourced most of its wheat sup- ply from Russia, which provide a higher quality certification than Ukraine. "But when we ap- proach our regular contacts in Russia, we now find ourselves not being able to pay for the supplies, because banks are not accepting to transfer money fol- lowing the sanctions imposed by the European Union, the US and other other countries on most Russian banks." The EU has imposed financial and technological sector restric- tions against key Russian agen- cies, including the presidential administration, the Russian defence ministry, foreign intel- ligence, state structures, as well as military industrial corpora- tions, financial companies and banks. On 2 March, the EU froze the foreign reserves of the Rus- sian Central Bank and banned Bank Otkritie, Novikombank, Promsvyazbank, Rossiya Bank, Sovcombank, VEB, and VTB BANK from the SWIFT sys- tem - a measure that also ap- plies to anyone established in Russia whose propriety rights are directly or indirectly owned for more than 50% by the same banks. Cachia insisted there was no shortage of wheat at the mo- ment or for the foreseeable future. But with global supply suddenly affected, prices are climbing steadily as countries and importers look to alterna- tive suppliers. "With our normal supply channels currently in question, we have been contacting other suppliers outside the EU, in- cluding in the US and beyond," he said. "And we are now focus- ing on increasing our storage volume." He said the government had already given the go-ahead for the company to use addition- al storage space as necessary at the Corradino Grain Terminal, allowing the company to se- cure the best-priced supplies of wheat without worrying about storage limits. Cachia said he was confident that, with the government aware of the global situation and ap- praised of local importers' and producers' concerns, a solution could be found to ensure the consumer does not have bear the brunt of the increases. "At the same, we – like all other suppliers and producers – are commercial enterprises at the end of the day and we too can- not afford to absorb such losses. And unfortunately, the price of wheat affects many other sec- tors and industries, including animal husbandry, bakeries and milk producers." Robert Cauchi, Group CEO at the Koperattiva Produtturi tal-Ħalib (milk producers coop) told MaltaToday they too were focusing on storing as much produce as possible to meet de- mand and keep prices stable. He confirmed that meetings were held this week with sen- ior government officials to dis- cuss the effects of the Ukrain invasion on the price of wheat, barley and other grains. "We are pleased that everyone is coming together in a cooperative spirit to ensure that we are prepared for any eventuality," Cachia said. A similar scenario is playing out at Liquigas Ltd, a leading im- porter and distributor of LPG. A senior Liquigas Malta official said that consumers should not be worried about a lack of sup- ply of LPG because the compa- ny had secured enough supplies of LPG "for a good number of months". The company has also se- cured alternative supply sourc- es, thanks to the support of SHV Energy, a Dutch company shareholder of Liquigas Malta, which is a global leader in the distribution of LPG across more than 25 countries worldwide. Sanctions and Black Sea closure stops wheat imports "Because the Black Sea is currently closed off because of the actions of Russian warships, trade shipping routes have been disrupted and no wheat is making it out of Russia or Ukraine through that channel" MATTHEW VELLA AS war rages in the Ukraine, to the south of the Mediter- ranean a worsening situation is unfolding in Libya, where division at its highest level is threatening a new phase of civ- il conflict. Foreign minister Evarist Bartolo has alerted counter- parts in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany of the deteriorating situation ahead of a mobilisa- tion of militias al-lied to Fathi Bashagha to enter Tripoli and dislodge the Ali Dbeibah gov- ernment. But a statement from the five governments has so far done Bartolo sends alert to Europe over Libya teetering on brink again A 56-year-old lost his life in Luqa after a nine-metre fall in Luqa yesterday morning. Police reported that on Sat- urday at around 10.30 am, an accident occurred at a store in Ħal Qormi road, Luqa. From it preliminary investi- gations, it results that planks of wood the Sliema man was on, gave in. He was assisted by a medical team and by members of the Civil Protection Department on the spot, and then taken to Mater Dei hospital in an am- bulance. The man was certified dead. Magistrate Leonard Carua- na opened an inquiry into the case and police investigations are underway. Man falls to his death after nine-metre fall in Luqa HEALTH authorities an- nounced 127 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, with 48 vi- rus patients currently in hos- pital receiving treatment. A 99-year-old man died overnight, becoming the 614th person to die while COVID-positive in Malta so far. It is the fifth consecutive day that the number of new cas- es has reached three figures, after around three weeks of double-digit new case num- bers. Data released by the health ministry showed that of the 48 patients receiving treat- ment in hospital, three re- quire care at the Mater Dei Hospital ITU. A total of 86 patients recov- ered overnight, resulting in there being 1189 active cases in the country as of 12pm on Saturday. More than 346,000 peo- ple have received a vaccine booster shot so far. 127 new COVID cases as 99-year-old patient dies

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