The Malta Independent 4 August 2020, Tuesday

Watch: PM Abela orders that Vitals document be found ‘by today’

Karl Azzopardi Monday, 13 July 2020, 11:17 Last update: about 22 days ago

Prime Minister Robert Abela said he has ordered that a missing document pertaining to the deal reached by the government with Vitals for the transfer of three private hospitals be found by today.

Last week, Abela said that in his report on the deal, the Auditor General said that the government’s memorandum of understanding with Vitals Global Healthcare had not been located.

The document had paved the way for the transfer of Karin Grech, St Luke's and Gozo General Hospital to the private sector.

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As soon as the Auditor Gerenal's report had been published, Abela had requested a copy of the MoU but it had not been found.

Abela today said that he hard ordered it to be found by today.

Former health minister Konrad Mizzi, under whom this deal was signed, said that he was not involved in a MoU signed in 2014 between the government and some VGH investors, adding that the document should immediately be published. He said that the entire Cabinet at the time was involved in all stages of the contract, however, the NAO report and ministers from the previous cabinet have reported these claims to be false.

In June, Mizzi was removed from the PL Parliamentary Group due to recent Montenegro scandal revelations, the last in a string of scandals which started off with the Panama Papers, continued with the privatisation of three public hospitals and more recently the windfarm deal in Montenegro.

EU Multi Annual Financial Framework package

Asked if he believes that Malta will be getting a justifiable aid package from the EU Commission’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), Abela said that at the moment Malta is in a disadvantaged position than the previous MFF because of the economic growth that the country has seen over the past seven years.

However, he said that he is convinced that the government will be able to fight for a sustainable budget seeing that these are funds which Malta depends on to maintain its economic growth.

“We never broke the principle of non-refoulement”

Abela was also questioned about criticism made by multiple entities, including the Pope, EU council and UN, on Libya’s detention centres, with the Pope saying that they are similar to concentration camps. 

Asked for the government’s position on this and if human rights are on the agenda during bilateral discussions between Libya and Malta, Abela said that this is one of the highest priorities for both the Maltese and Libyan government.

“We cannot keep displaying this idea that the Libyan government is disrespectful. We have found a government with whom we can genuinely communicate with on topics like immigration wherein both sides agree that there is need for more operations from UNCR and IOM in Libyan shores and assess the centres’ conditions,” he said.

However, he emphasised that the government will also keep the nation’s best interests in mind as well, saying that further disembarkations would not be ideal and the government will do everything it can to reduce the number of incoming immigrants.  “I will be at the forefront in the fight for human rights but at the same time I will prioritise Malta first.”

He added that the government has never broken the principal of non-refoulment which “guarantees that no one should be returned to a country where they would face torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and other irreparable harm”, according to the OHCHR.

 

 

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