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Hungrier by the minute

The appetite for more is growing. Cafe’ Premier was the first transaction. As time went by, the deals became bigger and bolder.

St Luke's hospital

The appetite for more is growing.  Cafe’ Premier was the first transaction. As time went by, the deals became bigger and bolder.

Surely there could not have been an earlier one than Cafe Premier, since it happened so soon after the electoral result of 2013.This was a deal with a one-sided beneficiary, and this was not the Maltese taxpayer. Over €4 million were at stake here.

This was a deal – for want of a better word, strategised by Castille itself, through the Prime Minister’s personal email, signed and sealed by the man himself, acknowledging that things could have been done better. To date we only know for whom things have been done well. For whom they could have been done better we, as yet, have to be told.

Then the Gaffarena deal surfaced – yet another transaction with friends of friends who had already benefitted from the issue of a petrol station permit not sanctioned by Planning Authority rules. The dealings leading to the contract signing left much to be desired. This was yet another arrangement championed from Castille, not by the Prime Minister but through his Parliamentary Secretary stationed there, later sacrificed on the altar of scapegoats. The amount this time round was a few millions more than the previous Cafe’ Premier deal.

All along we had the power station saga – and here we are now in the region of €360 million involvement. This was money for a power station which we did not need, a power station that is wholly dependent on other sources of energy for the country’s needs, a power station which in the words of professional executives in the energy sector, gives us no guarantees, a power station that brought the infamous Azerbaijan in the equation.

One should also recall the various shenanigans the government had to undertake to have the Electrogas deal go through by hook or by crook – a bank guarantee like no other, a guarantee that switches on and off at Castille’s leisure, a floating monster of a tank as the road-map and pre-2013 calculations for fuel storage on land did not live up to their expectations, besides disregard to life and property of people in the vicinity. No two ways about it, this deal had to materialise. This had always been the centre-piece of ‘our road-map’, and here we are now contracting multiple six-digit figures.

Worthy of note also is the allegation that a suspect million-dollar transfer had gone through from the Aliyev family to an Egrant account. The spouse from Castille denied this, but as Mandy Rice Davies of Profumo fame is wont to have exclaimed, ‘she would, wouldn’t she!’ Our courts are still investigating. These things take time. An investigation which our Prime Minister thought would have been finalised prior to the last election still needs looking into nine months later.

Let us now come to present day occurrences – the Vitals Global transfer to Steward Health Care, the transfer which the Partit Demokratiku claims “stinks to high heaven”. We have now upped our appetite, no more dealings in the millions region. It is now €2.1 billion of hard-earned taxpayers’ money.

Vitals was introduced to the awe-stricken, alienated Maltese public as a major international investment, a vote of confidence in Malta by another major firm. The facts that the company had no healthcare expertise, that the deal was conjured by a suspect middle man, that the owner of the company was shrouded in anonymity, that the contracts were blanked out under the pretext of commercial sensitivity, were all the views of a negative opposition that did not have the country’s interest at heart.

It now turns out that Vitals is ‘not the real thing’ after all. Vitals have already packed up their bags – in fact even as far back as March. It would be in the interest of each and every taxpayer to know whether these contain any recycled government funds pocketed by the as yet unknown company owners.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has said over and over again that ‘perfect we are not’ but one day, sometime, the distracted people of these islands will get to appreciate that we have since honed our skills, and developed an increasingly voracious appetite as we went along.

Crunch time in 2018: Should I stay or should I go?

PN leader Adrian Delia

Deal, no deal actually