How rich of Mus­cat

Last Tues­day, in an at­tempt to dis­tract from the main is­sue of the past few days – the iden­tity of the real owner of Egrant Inc. – Joseph Mus­cat sent two sur­geons to a press con­fer­ence on health.

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

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

The sur­geons – Health Min­is­ter Chris Fearne and Labour MP Franco Mer­cieca – tried to con­vince the gen­eral pub­lic that vot­ing for the PN is a risk for free med­i­cal care in Malta. Of course, com­ing from Mus­cat this isn’t just rich, it is su­per rich.

So, Mus­cat still thinks that he can choose two of his men to throw mud at the Op­po­si­tion and peo­ple will au­to­mat­i­cally ac­cept this as the gospel truth. Does he re­ally be­lieve the pub­lic is that gullible?

This Labour tac­tic is now overused. Time has proven, over and over again, that such ac­cu­sa­tions are to­tally false. The real irony of it all is that the only time any form of pay­ment was in­tro­duced in the health sec­tor in Malta was un­der a Labour gov­ern­ment, un­der Al­fred Sant in the mid-1990s, with the in­tro­duc­tion of the fa­mous 50 (Malta) cents (€1.16) for each pre­scrip­tion. This de­ci­sion turned out to be one of the nails in Sant’s po­lit­i­cal cof­fin.

Now, Mus­cat is do­ing much worse than Sant.

Be­hind every­one’s back, and with­out any man­date to do so, Mus­cat has sold big chunks of our health sys­tem: The Gozo Gen­eral Hospi­tal, Karin Grech Hospi­tal, St Luke’s Hospi­tal, the der­ma­tol­ogy depart­ment and the pros­thet­ics depart­ment.

Sus­pi­cions about this shady deal are rife be­cause the deal it­self is far from the ex­em­plary text­book case of good gov­er­nance and transparency.

Here are a few rea­sons why

1. The con­tract was signed by Kon­rad Mizzi on be­half of Mus­cat’s gov­ern­ment (even though Chris Fearne is the Health Min­is­ter) just two days be­fore the go-ahead was given to open the in­fa­mous Panama ac­counts, as re­ported by the Pulitzer Prize jour­nal­ists at ICIJ. 2. The other sig­na­tory on the same con­tract, rep­re­sent­ing Vi­tals Global Health­care, is a very shady char­ac­ter who is in­volved in a fraud­u­lent busi­ness deal in Canada. 3. Only a very edited ver­sion of the con­tract has been pub­lished by Chris Fearne for Mus­cat’s gov­ern­ment, making it close to im­pos­si­ble to un­der­stand what the real deal is. 4. Two of the coun­try’s lead­ing unions, rep­re­sent­ing work­ers in the health sec­tor, are not just ob­ject­ing to this con­tract. They have for­mally re­quested the Au­di­tor Gen­eral to in­ves­ti­gate this mat­ter. 5. Cur­rently, the doc­tors’ union, MAM, has given their ex­col­league, Chris Fearne, a twoweek ul­ti­ma­tum to clear this mess. The Health Min­is­ter has been play­ing for time and act­ing cool but he is ob­vi­ously in dire straits and has very lit­tle op­tions on what to do next. 6. In the mean­time, VGH are re­ceiv­ing mil­lions of euros from tax­pay­ers’ money with noth­ing to show for it. The ser­vice has clearly seen no im­prove­ment to jus­tify the money go­ing to VGH.

So, I won­der, did Fearne and Franco Mer­cieca re­ally think that peo­ple don’t know all this is go­ing on? Per­haps they might want to ex­plain why they are try­ing to jus­tify a mess which, un­til now, did not in­volve them. How could they al­low Mus­cat to use them in such a dis­re­spect­ful way?

As I put pen to pa­per, se­cret com­pa­nies are be­ing quickly dis­man­tled, pos­si­bly to hide what they were con­ceal­ing. No­body is in­ter­ested in any news ex­cept the an­swer to the clear and sim­ple ques­tion: “Who does Egrant be­long to?”

And just for the record: The Na­tion­al­ist Party never in­tro­duced pay­ment for pub­lic health ser­vices and has ab­so­lutely no plan to do so.

The Malta In­de­pen­dent Fri­day 21 April 2017

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