The Malta Independent 20 April 2024, Saturday
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‘Steward are fleeing from their responsibilities, and government doesn’t know what to do’ – Delia

Albert Galea Thursday, 16 March 2023, 10:59 Last update: about 2 years ago

Former Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia has accused Steward Health Care Malta of “fleeing from their responsibilities” and the government of not knowing what to do as a result.

Delia was among four PN speakers in a press conference called only minutes after Steward Health Care Malta announced that it would be terminating the concession agreement it had with the government – a couple of weeks after a court annulled the deal and found it to be “fraudulent.”

Standing outside the Health Ministry in Valletta, Delia said that the news that Steward would be terminating the concession “confirmed that those who were supposed to give us a state of the art health service were only interested in defrauding the people.”

“Steward are fleeing their responsibilities even now in the last few weeks and months that they have left.  The government, meanwhile, is totally mute.  It doesn’t know what it’s going to do, because its initial plan to rob the people has now been annulled and dismantled,” Delia said.

He referred to the Nationalist Party’s motion in Parliament to insist upon the government to take all the necessary action to get the people’s money back, and called upon people to be present outside Parliament for the protest which the party has called.

PN leader Bernard Grech reacted to the news of Steward’s termination of the agreement by saying that “we know that Vitals and Steward displayed shortcomings, but we know that the government displayed shortcomings as well.”

“Robert Abela is silent.  He is silent because he has no plan.  When Robert Abela knew that there was a court case, with a great lack of prudence he got lost in trying to make sure that the Maltese and Gozitan people do not get their hospitals back,” Grech said.

Grech said that Abela wasn’t prepared in the weeks prior to the judgment on the case, and remains unprepared now, weeks after it.

He said that besides asking for the government to get the funds paid to the concessionaires back, he would also be demanding that responsibility for the deal is shouldered.

“It is unacceptable for us to have a pirate government which serves to protect the interests of the few,” he said.

Grech said that the PN continues to believe in private sector investment and in correct agreements which improve the standards of the country.

“However it is unacceptable for us to have a few people within the government strike agreements behind the backs of the people to give away what belongs to the people and then give away millions of the people’s money when they know that the necessary obligations aren’t being met,” Grech said.

He concluded with a rallying cry for the protest which the PN is planning later on Thursday evening, saying that the people need to “wake up” to gain back what is theirs.

“This is your money, your health, your hospitals, your country.  Your country is calling,” he said.

The PN’s finance spokesperson Jerome Caruana Cilia meanwhile said that while the country’s debts had hit the €9 billion mark, the Finance Minister had continued to increase the allocation granted to Steward.

This, he said, is despite the fact that there was almost no investment in any of the facilities which they handled.

“So my question to the finance minister is: What are you doing to get our money back? How did you send the money? To who? To which account? To which country?  Come clean, dear Finance Minister,” Caruana Cilia said.

He said that Steward had already practically taken 100 million from the government – a reference to the €100 million exit clause added to the concession via a side agreement signed by Konrad Mizzi – through how much they own in taxes, VAT, NI contributions and through the €36 million loan which the concessionaires got from Bank of Valletta.

PN health spokesperson Stephen Spiteri meanwhile said that the people are facing a great debt in the health sector because of Steward’s shortcomings and lack of investment.

“Today you go to the emergency department and have to wait 12 hours to be seen for what is meant to be an emergency.  Right now there are 40 patients, many elderly, waiting for an operation.  They are left fasting every night and told that they will be operated the following morning, only to be told in the afternoon that the operation has been postponed because there isn’t an open operating theatre. This is the debt they have left,” Spiteri said.

He appealed to the government to vote in favour of Thursday’s motion and to not privatize the hospitals again.

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