The Malta Independent 12 May 2021, Wednesday

Government defends SVP contract: ‘There is no doubt about the benefits of this project’

Monday, 3 May 2021, 11:19 Last update: about 8 days ago

The Ministry for Senior Citizens and Active Ageing has defended a €274 million tender for the managing of four blocks at Saint Vincent de Paul Residency, after the contract was slammed by the National Audit Office (NAO).

The NAO criticised the contract last week and expressed its doubt that the tender awarded did not secure value for money.

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Additionally, the NAO found that no political authorisation to enter into a negotiated procedure with the consortium was requested from and provided by the Parliamentary Secretaries involved.

In response to this criticism, the Ministry for Senior Citizens and Active Ageing said that the Ministry is analysing the NAO’s report to iron out any kinks. It was however sure that the four blocks will ultimately provide a myriad of benefits “in a society where waiting lists for elderly waiting to move into residences has reached a new record”.

It stated that the contract, which lasts 15 years, will consist of an increase in 504 beds and will see a rise in human resources to care for the elderly.

A new kitchen with “state of the art” apparatus will be added, as well as the supplying of three daily meals for residents. This will extend to all residents in Saint Vincent de Paul, “not just those residing in the new blocks”, it added.

Despite the fact that the project will expire in 15 years’ time, the Ministry stated that the project will be completed in “a relatively short period” and will be “crucial” in taking care of residents who, due to Covid-19, are isolating, quarantining or recovering from the virus.

The service at the home is also unique and has offered specialised services which cannot be found in any other residency, the Ministry added.

“In fact, the collective agreements from unions is that they appeal for resources from St Vincent, which is more specialised than other elderly homes”, it said.

The elderly residing in St Vincent de Paul deserve and do not want a repeat of the poor catering services that were reported back in 2004, the Ministry continued.

“Additionally, there was a report from the NAO that marks these flaws and the need for change in 2003, with the government of the time throwing the situation under the carpet at the expense of workers and elderly residents in SVP”, it said.

An increase in beds was also “well needed” in Saint Vincent to avoid large amounts of people gathering in Mater Dei, either waiting to get a bed themselves or else individuals who were waiting to enter residencies in elderly homes.

It concluded that while it is taking the NAO report seriously, the benefits of this project should not be over-shadowed.

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