Prime Minister Robert Abela on Sunday again sought to distance himself from the Muscat government on the hospitals concession deal, insisting his government was moving 'in a different direction'. 

Addressing Labour Party faithful in Marsaxlokk, Abela said that he was following up on the promises he made to the party in 2020 when he was elected leader.

“We promised that where things could be done better, we would do so without any foot-dragging or excuses,” Abela said.  

Abela was referring to the report by the National Audit Office report that found that former tourism minister Konrad Mizzi misled the Cabinet over the deal with Steward Healthcare that obliged the government to pay €100 million if the hospitals contract was annulled. It also found that control of the concession deal was centralised between then prime minister Joseph Muscat's office and Mizzi. 


But, according to the report, there was an overall change in the approach towards negotiations with Steward Healthcare following the appointment of Robert Abela as prime minister.  

On Sunday Abela pressed the point, saying the government was doing things differently under his leadership.  

“In 2020 I said that the hospitals issue needed to be analysed well and according to that analysis we would take decisions," he said.

"The general auditor’s report published this week confirms that we did that,” he said.   

“I’m not looking to burden you with technical explanations of the auditor’s report, that is there for all to see, but the consistent message that comes out from each part of the report is that we were strong with Streward and that we were not going to change the terms of the deal,” Abela said.  

The prime minister speaking in Marsaxlokk.The prime minister speaking in Marsaxlokk.

He also criticised the opposition of having refused to discuss the report in Parliament on Monday.  

“They (The PN opposition) did not want to discuss the report because they know the government is protecting the country’s interest,” he said, accusing it of “partisan political games.”

The opposition had asked for the debate on the report to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday to give it time to read the 450-page document. 

Abela said that now that the hospitals were back in public hands the government would improve health services, protect workers' conditions, and create a “vision” for the hospitals.  

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