The Malta Independent 25 June 2024, Tuesday
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€400 million were ‘thrown away’ while Malta is last to get newest medicines – Grech

Albert Galea Sunday, 21 May 2023, 12:48 Last update: about 2 years ago

Nationalist Party leader Bernard Grech has decried the government for “throwing away” 400 million in the now annulled hospitals deal while Malta is the slowest in Europe to obtain new medicines.

Speaking in an interview on party media, Grech said that it is evident that Robert Abela has “big problems”, many of which he’s brought by his own hand, and some left over from before him. 

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He said that Joseph Muscat remains a figure who by how he led the country and the party has created a number of problems for the Labour Party, and continued that it is clear what the “devilish pact” which Robert Abela had spoken about during his leadership campaign was.

“Robert Abela is caught in a compromise with Joseph Muscat, and Muscat is continuing to tell him ‘don’t touch me or I’ll bring you down’,” Grech said.

The PN leader said that the National Audit Office’s investigation shows that after taking office from Muscat, Abela tried to renegotiate with Steward Health Care for the hospitals concession to be renewed.

“He was renegotiating with Steward after one of the first meetings he had at Castille was with Muscat and Steward – Muscat who we now know was taking money directly from Vitals,” Grech said.

He said that it is evident that the government tried to “lie” to and not give the clearest picture to the NAO during its investigation.

However, the PN leader says that it is still clear that the renegotiation stopped at the eleventh hour because the State Advocate said that what they were going to do was illegal.

“Robert Abela, who was Joseph Muscat’s legal advisor in Cabinet, did not realise that what they were trying to do was illegal,” Grech said.

He is referring to a part of the NAO’s report which found that the signing of a renegotiated deal only did not happen after the State Advocate raised concerns that the new agreement would not be following procurement regulations and would be exposed to potential legal challenges.

Grech also said that there were top members of the civil service who stood up to the government and stopped the deal from being signed, and praised them for their actions.

Speaking about the money spent by the government in the deal, Grech said that the NAO had proven that the 400 million figure paid to the concessionaires did not include salaries and that it was clear that the money had been spent and no investment was given back.

“People are saying that the health system is going backwards despite the best efforts of those working there because they do not have the best machines, tools and medicines to work with,” Grech said.

He said that 400 million were “thrown away” and even used on luxury hotels and cars instead of being used on medicines.  He said that new statistics this week showed that Malta is the country which takes the longest to purchase new medicines.

“They give you generic or older medicines rather than what is better for you – be it because they have less side effects or offer better treatment – because they threw away the money.  Joseph Muscat, Robert Abela, Chris Fearne, and Konrad Mizzi are all responsible because they knew what was happening and if it were up to them it would have kept going,” the PN leader said.

PL government almost doubled the country’s deficit - Grech

Grech also spoke of the government’s deficit, saying that it has almost doubled since the Labour Party took over in 2013.

“Remember how much they boasted of a surplus?” Grech queried, saying that this was also down to the work of the previous PN government.

“Since then it’s been one deficit after another,” he continued, saying that several excuses have been put forward but the truth is that the PL has no ideas other than to keep destroying the environment and allowing uncontrollable development.

He said that the deficit in 2013 stood at 5 billion, but today it has shot up to 9 billion.

“If we had anything to show for it, I’d understand it,” Grech said. He continued that the government had done various roads, but pointed out that these were mainly through European funds and added that previous PN governments had done major capital projects such as the airport, tunnels, the hospital, and new schools every year.

“They almost doubled the debt but have nothing to show for it,” he said.

Speaking on cost of living, Grech said that Abela putting the blame on the international scene on the situation shows he has no interest in addressing the cost of living.

He said that the government had ignored the PN’s ideas which could address the problem.

One such idea, he said, is a 40 million financial assistance grant for importers and exporters which would keep prices stable and reduce imported inflation costs, while a second was a proposal which the party adopted from the UHM for the COLA not to be taxed.

He added that the party had also proposed fiscal incentives to help employers pay out the COLA to workers, and said that constituted bodies had already agreed with these ideas.

“Only the government doesn’t welcome these ideas… and then they say we have no ideas ourselves,” Grech said.

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