Opposition leader Bernard Grech has called for Social Justice Minister Michael Falzon to shoulder responsibility for a scandalous €274 million direct order found to have broken the law.
“The blame rests only with the politicians. Michael Falzon needs to understand that he cannot keep hiding from the shadow cast upon him by the National Audit Office’s report,” Grech told journalists earlier today.
“The report is clear. There is no beating around the bush. If we want the institutions to work, we need to take them seriously. Michael Falzon knows what he needs to do,” Grech said.
The NAO yesterday found that the government signed a deal filled with irregularities, contracting James Caterers and DB Group to provide and cater for 500 beds for the elderly at St Vincent De Paule home.
Its report found that the government currently pays on average €51.06 for beds from private homes. Under this deal, the government pays roughly €118.44 per bed.
Prime Minister Robert Abela has not yet commented on the NAO’s findings or cancelled the deal.
Gravest among the NAOs concerns is that the basis cited as justification for authorising the negotiated procedure was in breach of legislative provisions, thereby possibly leading to the invalidity of the entire procedure.
“The authorisation was sought by the SVP, endorsed by the Ministry for the Family and Social Solidarity (MFSS) and granted by the Department of Contracts (DoC) on the basis that competition was absent for technical reasons and reasons of extreme urgency.”
“The NAO contends that there existed no technical reasons that precluded competition since the management of these blocks could have been undertaken by other operators.”
“Notwithstanding the reference to urgency, this was not justified as the blocks were to be under construction for at least 18 months, during which the SVP could procure these services through an open procedure,” it said.
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