Trans­parency test – Failed

On Wed­nes­day, Chris Fearne called a press con­fer­ence just be­fore com­menc­ing the day’s par­lia­men­tary ses­sion.

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Claudette But­tigieg is a PN MP – cbut­, twit­ter: @ButClaudette

21 Oc­to­ber 1966

Ibe­lieve (but stand to be cor­rected) this is the first press con­fer­ence held by the Labour side in the par­lia­ment build­ing. Who knows, maybe they are fi­nally mak­ing the build­ing their own?

At the press con­fer­ence, Fearne an­nounced that the long-promised agree­ments of the hospi­tal pri­vati­sa­tion would be pub­lished in their en­tirety, ex­cept that the com­mer­cially sen­si­tive parts would be omit­ted.

After weeks and long months of prom­ises, the con­tract signed by our govern­ment and Vi­tals Global Health­care fi­nally saw the light of day. Fearne tabled the three doc­u­ments in Par­lia­ment just after 6.30pm. Sure enough, as ex­pected, the com­mer­cially sen­si­tive num­bers were cen­sored. How­ever, that was not all. The in­for­ma­tion in some 60 pages was gone.

This is re­defin­ing, and abus­ing, what “com­mer­cially sen­si­tive” means.

By the time this ar­ti­cle goes to print we would have had more time to comb through each and ev­ery page and who knows what we will find. Still, at a glance, the big chunks which are miss­ing do not au­gur well.

Why would the in­for­ma­tion on how many pa­tients cur­rently make use of the Gozo Hospi­tal ser­vices be re­moved?

Things are look­ing much shadier than be­fore.

The doc­u­ments pub­lished are a Ser­vice Con­ces­sion Agree­ment, a Health­care Ser­vice De­liv­ery Agree­ment, and a Labour Sup­ply Agree­ment. The lat­ter is def­i­nitely go­ing to of­fer room for de­bates with the unions con­cerned.

How­ever, the main hot is­sues are found in the Ser­vice Con­ces­sion Agree­ment. This is where the largest num­ber of pages are miss­ing.

Dur­ing the press con­fer­ence, Fearne did clar­ify some points be­fore tabling the doc­u­ments. He in­sisted that this agree­ment was not signed by him but by Konrad Mizzi.

Asked about the Prime Min­is­ter’s Chief of Staff’s in­volve­ment in this mat­ter, Fearne de­nied any in­volve­ment at all.

He also clar­i­fied that he was only in­volved in the med­i­cal ser­vices as­pect and that the whole agree­ments were drawn up by Projects Malta. And that means only one thing. Konrad Mizzi is once again the pro­tag­o­nist of this mys­te­ri­ous deal.

To date, there are many unan­swered ques­tions on this project. The doc­u­ments pub­lished, with their miss­ing pages, are once again rais­ing eye­brows on the good in­ten­tions of our govern­ment.

We were promised an in­vest­ment of €200 mil­lion and at some point we are go­ing to ex­pect to see the fruit of such a prom­ise.

When Chris Fearne tabled the con­tract, Mar­lene Far­ru­gia ap­plauded him but I se­ri­ously doubt if she knew what was miss­ing from the doc­u­ments. I’d love to know if she will ap­plaud him next time they cross paths.

The Bud­get 2017

Last week, my fore­cast on what Labour would in­clude in the bud­get 2017 was very con­ser­va­tive. The PN ideas were taken up be­cause they are good and be­cause Mus­cat’s team are ob­vi­ously run­ning short of ideas. Mean­while the Bud­get speech was once again very slow and mono­tone. The com­ing days will be packed with speeches from morn­ing to night. I sin­cerely hope we will all have a good and fruit­ful debate for the good of our coun­try.

The Malta In­de­pen­dent Fri­day 21 Oc­to­ber 2016

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