Updated at 10.30am: Adds PD statement
The Nationalist Party has welcomed the Auditor General’s decision to investigate the hospitals’ concession given Vitals Global Healthcare.
The private company was awarded the controversial €2 billion concession to run Karen Grech, St Luke’s and Gozo hospitals for 30 years in March 2016.
The Times of Malta on Tuesday revealed that the government has tied future administrations to pay €80 million in taxpayers’ money to VGH to give back the title of the land and buildings of the Karin Grech and Gozo General hospitals.
It also said that parts of the concession agreements, kept secret by the government, showed that, in the case of St Luke’s Hospital, Vitals can keep it and all its grounds for a total of 99 years.
In a statement, the PN said that through its members on the Public Accounts Committee, it had moved a formal request to the Auditor General to investigate the transfer and clarify how the deal was done.
The Labour Party, on the other hand, said that the investigation showed that the government had nothing to hide. It said the investigation was originally requested by Health Minister Chris Fearne in December 2016.
The PN's call for an investigation was a year late and nothing but a move to please those who persisted in attacking all investment.
The PN said the terms of reference set by the Audit Office reflected how right it was to be concerned. The AG would investigate the deal, if this represented value for money and the transfer of the concession to a third party 20 months after the original contract was signed.
It insisted that the hospitals’ administration should reflect the interests of patients and the health sector and not the interests of hidden businessmen.
In another statement, PD asked if it had been confirmed that after 30 years St Luke's Hospital and its grounds would continue to be used for medical purposes.
It called for the identity of the VGH shareholders to be revealed and asked if any of them were Maltese.
"This agreement is looking increasingly like a millstone around our nation's healthcare's neck. One whose burden will be borne not only by this generation, but the next and the following after that."
If the government had any decency left, it said, it should rescind the agreement without delay, take back the hospitals and let the people who had run Malta’s healthcare diligently and efficiently for centuries, run it again.
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