Prime Minister Robert Abela this morning visited St Vincent de Paul (SVP) home for the elderly to film a Workers Day promo video, while remaining silent on an “illegal” government direct order awarded to a company for works at the same site.
In the video, Abela can be seen touring the hospital – the subject of a damning report by the National Audit Office – together with SVP CEO Josianne Cutajar.
The auditor general’s report, which followed an investigation by his office into a €274 million contract handed to James Caterers and the DB Group, found the manner in which the contract had been awarded to have breached the law.
The two companies were awarded the massive contract to build and administer a new residential block together with a new kitchen within the care home back in 2017.
The report’s publication has been met by a deafening silence on the part of the government, including the various ministers who have been responsible for the facility over the course of the legislature.
Rather than addressing the very serious concerns raised by the auditor general, about the government’s, and his ministers’, role in the tender being awarded, Abela chose instead to use the location as the site for Workers Day promotional video.
“I spent the afternoon close to workers,” read the Facebook post.
What it neglected to mention was the fact that the auditor general had found that through the government’s actions those same workers, along with the rest of the country, had had millions taken from them and awarded to an undeserving third party.
In fact, the auditor general found that while the government currently pays on average €51.05 for beds in private homes, it would be spending €118.44 per bed as a result of this particular deal.
It said it had found a number of irregularities all throughout the procurement process.
“Conspicuously absent was any political authorisation endorsing the government’s commitment to a project of over €274,000 and entered into directly with the [two consortia],” noted the report.
Since the findings were published on Wednesday, the lack of political responsibility on the part of members of government responsible for the hospital at the time has also been nowhere to be seen.
It is also not known whether the hospital’s administration, which includes former judge Philip Sciberras, will be held accountable for the findings.
Both former and current Social Solidarity ministers Michael Farrugia and Michael Falzon have denied any involvement in the procurement process and have passed the buck onto other government departments.
Education minister Justyne Caruana, who as a parliamentary secretary was responsible for the facility at the time, has also remained silent on the auditor general’s findings.
Do you think it’s about time the Prime Minister addressed the report’s findings?