The Malta Independent 3 March 2024, Sunday
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Delia takes aim at government over 'four liner' reaction to hospitals concession decision

Sabrina Zammit Monday, 27 February 2023, 17:59 Last update: about 2 years ago

PN MP Adrian Delia on Monday evening took aim at the government's 'four liner reaction' to the hospitals concession court judgement.

Delia tabled the around 140-page court judgement  on the hospitals deal that was delivered last Friday. The case had been filed by Delia (when he was Opposition leader) in 2018 and he had asked the courts to declare the agreement between the government of Malta and Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH) - since then superseded by Steward Health Care - null and void, arguing that the concessionaire had failed to adhere to obligations laid down in the contract.  The court on Friday nullifed the government's deal to privatise the three hospitals, and Mr Justice Francesco Depasquale ordered that all property be returned to the government.

Delia said that after the court judgement, the only response from the government was a four liner where "he (Abela) said that government is going to analyse the court sentence and where he assured that he is going to seek decisions based on national interest." 

Following the court's ruling, the government had issued a statement saying that it is 'analysing' the court's judgement. The government had said that in all eventualities, it will continue to safeguard the national interest, the employment of the workers at the hospitals and give the services that patients are receiving.

During the parliamentary sitting, Delia said that during the five years the court battle took there were a total of 33 sittings, 55 witnesses and 3,000 documents submitted.

Referring to entities against which the case was filed, Delia mentioned the Chairman of the Land authority, together with its commissioner as "they were responsible for the property that formed part of the contract".

Additionally, there was also the Attorney general and the Three Vitals companies, which after being taken over by Steward Health Care changed their name to reflect Steward Health Care "but remained the same company," he said.

Delia added that during the negotiation of the contract there was former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, after which such position was filled by Robert Abela, "whom all said that they had no responsibility, even after the funds were given, yet the contract was not being honoured".

Referring to all the parties apart from Vitals and Steward Healthcare, Delia said that it was also the same court which questioned "how come the government authorities don't take responsibility?"

He said that the court judgement not only showed that the promised investment, such as a new hospital for Gozo and the rehabilitation of Karin Grech and St Lukes hospitals did not take place, "but also that there was fraudulent action, and I want the people at home to understand, as they suffered from this fraud," as the companies were being funded through the taxpayer's money.

He added that the Civil court found the contract fraudulent on three occasions - before the deal was even signed, during its evaluation together with the negotiation process, and lastly "when the government saw that there was no investment, as instead of saying enough it continues on with the agreement."

Referring to the Maltese courts he said that it is the only institution "we can go to for justice", where everything was uncovered.

Delia said that the previous Finance Minister Edward Scicluna was always saying that he knew nothing of the contract when he was called to the witness stand in court.

Additionally current Finance Minister Clyde Caruana also ignored the judicial protest filed by the PN back in November, warning the government about the fraudulent contract however "he (Caruana) still accepted to pay them".

Delia also said that about the €46 million in taxes was due to be paid by Vitals.

 "The government said now that it is going to get those taxes back, when they should have never been allowed to accumulate to that amount in the first place".

Delia said that it had to be the local bank Bank of Valleta that in May of 2018 and July 2019 had loaned around €36 million to Steward Health Care.

Delia asked who was responsible for the due diligence to process such payments, when "they Steward were never going to do their obligations (as per contract)"

As for the Police Commissioner, Delia questioned whether he had started to investigate those responsible since in the court found instances of fraud.

Mentioning the evaluation and the adjudication board for the contract, Delia said that it was chaired by company members of Nexia BT, who were responsible for ascertaining that the company chosen for the contract was able to offer a world class system, however they "gave it to a company with 1k capital that had been registered for only a month and had never worked in the medical field," he said, referring to Vitals Global Healthcare.

 


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