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Even Steward Now Admitting Original Hospital Deal Was Corrupt, Adrian Delia Warns In Fiery Speech

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Adrian Delia has urged Prime Minister Robert Abela and Health Minister Chris Fearne to immediately scrap the hospital agreement with Steward Healthcare following reports that the company had described the original deal as corrupt.

“I know that you both know they’re robbing us but we cannot wait any longer,” the PN MP and former leader warned in Parliament last night.

“You have everything you need to scrap the deal. Take the right decision and side with the people. Let’s fight the foreigners who are robbing us and ensure justice is served to the people who allowed them to rob us.”

Delia, who has filed court proceedings to scrap the contract, referred to a recent report by The Shift News that Steward had itself described the original concession it had acquired from Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH) as fraudulent and corrupt.

Steward made this claim in an appeal it had filed in the Maltese courts to stop the enforcement of a London court ruling that former VGH investor Ambrish Gupta be granted millions in compensation.

The Shift reported that VGH’s former head of legal is also demanding damages, claiming the Office of the Prime Minister had interfered on human resources decisions.

Yesterday, Delia recounted how Robert Abela had set up an expert committee to look into the deal shortly after his election as Prime Minister in 2020. However, no concrete updates on the future of the agreement have been given since then.

Since then, it also emerged that former Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi had in August 2019 inserted an escape clause in the agreement with Steward, promising them €100 million in public funds in the eventuality that the deal was scrapped.

The minister’s permanent secretary Ronald Mizzi has said this escape clause was necessary to safeguard the hospital project because Bank of Valletta had felt uncomfortable granting a €27.5 loan to Steward since the concession was being challenged in court and was the source of much political controversy.

Fearne took a cautious stance in his response to Delia’s speech, stating that any change in the concession must respect Maltese and EU laws as well as public procurement regulations.

Health Minister Chris Fearne

Health Minister Chris Fearne

“Discussions are ongoing on how we can provide a better service to citizens, and the government is committed to obtaining every last drop of what has been promised to it in the concession, but we cannot go beyond what the law and public procurement regulations entail.”

“Until the concession changes, I will make sure Steward does everything it has been contractually obliged to do, and you can rest assured that the government won’t hold back from ensuring top-quality healthcare at the Gozo, St Luke’s and Karin Grech hospitals.”

Vitals Global Healthcare, a group of investors spearheaded by Ram Tumuluri, were originally granted the concession in 2015, with the government claiming the three hospitals will be revitalised through an injection of private capital. 

However, the investors ran into financial difficulty and in 2017 sold the concession to Steward, a major American private healthcare provider.  

Do you think this hospitals deal should be scrapped? 

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Tim is interested in the rapid evolution of human society brought about by technological advances. He’s passionate about justice, human rights and cutting-edge political debates. You can follow him on Twitter at @timdiacono or reach out to him at [email protected]

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