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MaltaToday 1 March 2023 MIDWEEK

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2 NEWS maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 1 MARCH 2023 2 MATTHEW VELLA PETER Agius, the Nationalist Party's candidate for Europe, has written to European Com- mission president Ursula von der Leyen calling her attention to the abuse of government spending, in the aftermath of the Steward-Vitals hospitals deal rescission. Agius told Von der Leyen the spending of Maltese taxes mer- ited close attention from the EC, saying the Maltese govern- ment was breaching "practical- ly all the articles" of the EU's public procurement directive 2014/24/EU. "Do not close your eyes to the breach of EU laws by the Mal- tese government... In May and October 2021 I sent two official letters to your services to inves- tigate these breaches of public procurement – namely the €4 billion Vitals concession. "Your services failed to an- swer my questions and said they had not enough informa- tion to proceed despite having passed on to them the Audi- tor General's report which ex- plains the facts clearly." Agius said the EC had to ex- tend its hand to investigate public procurement breaches on the Vitals-Steward conces- sions deal, because it had to be seen to enforce EU law. "We have seen hundreds of direct orders valued at mil- lions when the limit should be €10,000, and cases where a private investment on a power station implicated by the Pan- ama Papers was given a bank guarantee secured by Maltese taxpayers' money, and now the Vitals deal where a penaly clause for €100 million was in- serted post-contract." Agius said all these cases showed a breach of Europe- an law. "One asks why the EC has not moved on such abuses. Perhaps because they are con- sidered 'domestic' cases that did not affect the bottom-line for some larger companies on the continent?" Agius said these were cases of violations of European laws and said he was submitted a formal report to the EC for an investigation. "Your services receive daily news from Malta, where thanks to the courage of some Maltese journalists these scandals are revealed. But al- though all this is known to you, you have chosen twice not to take action." "I am making a sincere appeal to you, President Von der Ley- en, Commissioners and all your services. Do not close your eyes on breaches of the law in Malta, especially when it comes to the spending of Maltese taxpayers' money.... the Maltese people expect much more from Eu- rope. Don't disappoint them." Brussels called to investigate Steward deal and abuse of procurement rules PN candidate Peter Agius tells EC his previous two complainst on procurement rules were ignored, now calls for attention on Steward case CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 PN leader Bernard Grech held a press conference outside St Luke's Hospital with Delia and PN MP Stephen Spiteri, after which they walked inside the hospital grounds to show jour- nalists the lack of investment that was promised by Steward. "I salute you Dr Delia," one of the workers told the PN MP as he shook his hand. St Luke's was one of three hos- pitals sold to foreign investors as part of a privatisation deal struck with Vitals Global Healthcare (VGH). As part of the deal, VGH had to fulfil several investment milestones, but no work had ever been completed. Three years after VGH won the concession for the three hospi- tals, the company sold its owner- ship to Steward Healthcare after running into financial difficulty. Steward also failed to live up to its contractual obligation. On Friday, a judge struck down the contract and ordered that all three hospitals be returned to the government. The court case was initiated by Delia in 2018. "The Prime Minister is corrupt, as much as the VGH/Steward deal," said Bernard Grech when addressing journalists. He insist- ed that it is not enough for Robert Abela to simply say government learnt from its mistakes. Instead, according to the PN, Abela together with his fellow MPs, serving together with him in Joseph Muscat's cabinet, show shoulder political responsibility and apologise. The government should also have Steward return the €300 million, "given to them budget after another by Abela's government." "I salute you, Dr Delia" After the press conference, PN leader Bernard Grech, accompanied by MPs Adrian Delia and Stephen Spiteri, led journalists into St Luke's Hospital to highlight the lack of investment that was promised by Steward

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