Transparency test – Failed
On Wednesday, Chris Fearne called a press conference just before commencing the day’s parliamentary session.
Claudette Buttigieg is a PN MP – email@example.com, 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