Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri did not abuse of his power when he awarded a Gozitan hotel a contract to house geriatric patients, Standards Commissioner George Hyzler has found.
In a report published on Wednesday evening, Hyzler concluded that the minister had issued a direct order after a decision that had been taken by Cabinet, and so claims to the contrary were “baseless”.
Furthermore, the commissioner argued that the allegation that issuing a direct order in this way was, in and of itself, an abuse of power, was also not true.
The investigation was triggered after a complaint was filed by former independent election candidate, Arnold Cassola.
That complaint was filed after Times of Malta last year reported how the government was paying the Downtown Hotel in Gozo more than €100 daily per room to house geriatric patients relocated there from the island’s hospital.
The report detailed how a contract for the deal had been signed without going to tender.
The one-year contract meant the hotel stood to bring in €1.6 million from the deal.
The complaint by Cassola alleged that the lease of the hotel was abusive because a property built on government land, the Lourdes Home run by the Dominican Sisters, was available as an alternative.
This property was allegedly better suited for use as a home for the elderly, and it would have been less expensive than the Downtown Hotel.
The Commissioner found that the Lourdes Home belonged to the Dominican Sisters, not the government. The nuns did not consider the Lourdes Home to be suitable as a home for the elderly, and they were unwilling to make it available for this purpose.
Hyzler, therefore, did not uphold the complaint.
The Commissioner also concluded that once the Lourdes Home was not available as an alternative to the hotel leased by the government, he did not have grounds to investigate the use of a direct order to lease the hotel.
This, he concluded, was particularly true when considering that direct orders were permissible under certain circumstances and the country was facing a public health emergency at the time.
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