Updated 5.35pm with Nexia BT reaction
Opposition leader Adrian Delia on Saturday demanded answers from the government as the Nationalist Party published an evaluation report about hospital privatisation deal “kept hidden from the public.”
Addressing a press conference, Dr Delia said three public hospitals had been taken away from the Maltese and given to a company with no healthcare experience.
The evaluation report published by the PN shows that one of the people on the three-man panel tasked with assessing the privatisation deal was a representative of Nexia BT, the accounting firm which opened secret offshore companies for Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri.
The evaluation committee heaped praise on the bid submitted by Vitals Global Healthcare to take over St Luke's, Gozo and Karin Grech hospitals and recommended that they be named the preferred bidder.
Vitals was set up by an investment group with no experience in the healthcare sector. The company won the deal to take over the three hospitals in 2016 and sold it on two years later.
Dr Delia has taken to the courts to try get the original deal annulled.
The Opposition leader said the evaluation report showed the government exploited people, even when they were sick.
He accused former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat of asking his successor for even more money for the concessionaires in a bid to continue “stealing” public funds.
Dr Muscat attended a meeting between prime minister Robert Abela and Steward Health Care, the US company which took over the hospital deal from Vitals, earlier this month. A government spokesman said Dr Muscat was not there to lobby for Steward, but did not explain why the former prime minister was involved.
Dr Delia said all those linked to the Vitals contract had huge responsibilities to carry.
He said hospital concessionaires had done nothing, while receiving taxpayer money, and argued that Finance Minister Edward Scicluna had to provide answers as to why money was being paid out to these people.
The Opposition leader said the tender was designed to be given to someone who had no ability to deliver on what was promised.
Polls and cash-for-passports
Fielding questions from journalists, Dr Delia did not commit to stepping down if the Nationalist Party continued to fail to make any headway in the polls, despite the raft of government scandals.
On the cash-for-passports scheme, Dr Delia blasted the government’s failure to terminate the scheme.
He said the Opposition was capable of offering alternative investment schemes that did not attract “criminals.”
Committee decision was unanimous - Nexia BT
In a statement, Nexia BT partner Manuel Castagna said the decision to recommend the preferred bidder had been taken unanimously by all members of the evaluation committee.
The committee's remit, he said, was strictly to review the presented bids, including financial projections. Two bids were non-compliant and could not be evaluated.
"The evaluation committee was not tasked with monitoring the ongoing performance of the preferred bidder and neither had the committee any oversight responsibilities, including adherence of the bidder to the presented financial projections. Any attempt at implying otherwise is simply unfounded and incorrect," he said.
"I await the conclusion of the Court’s investigation on the matter and remain available to cooperate with the authorities as and when required."
'Decisions will be taken' - PM
In a brief statement, the government said only that as Prime Minister Robert Abela had already said, decisions would be taken "in the best interest of the country".
"Modern facilities at the St Luke's, Karin Grech and Gozo General hospitals are a priority in the health sector, after these hospitals were abandoned by previous administrations before 2013. The government will take all necessary steps to ensure the sector moves forward," the government said.
Read the evaluation report in the pdf below