PM set to award new, multi-million euro direct order to DB Group/James Caterers

Robert Abela stalls on illegal SVDP contract, ignores NAO

 

Prime Minister Robert Abela’s government is in the final stages of awarding another multi-million euro direct order to Healthmark Care Services – a company owned by Silvio Debono of the DB Group and James Barbara of James Caterers.

At the same time, the government has ignored recommendations made by the NAO to annul the controversial St Vincent de Paul €275 million direct order awarded to the same businessmen by Abela’s predecessor, disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat.

The new direct order, with a value of almost €8 million for 12 months, involves the provision of the domiciliary nursing and caring services provided by the Ministry for Active Ageing, headed by Naxxar GP Michael Farrugia.

Through an unpublished negotiated procedure (a direct order tender), only the company owned by Debono/Barbara was invited to submit a bid. They asked for €7.69 million – a sum the government is set to approve.

The nursing service, previously provided by the MMDNA, which was dismantled after being taken over by Healthmark Care Services, has been run by the Debono/Barbara company since 2015.

In 2018, an investigation by the National Audit Office (NAO) found that the contract with Healthmark did not give the country value for its money and slammed the government for renewing the company’s contract annually through a direct order.

However, the government has failed to act on the NAO’s findings, and is instead set to award a new direct order for the same services, with the same company.

It is estimated that Debono and Barbara’s company has already cashed-in more than €40 million in taxpayer’s funds for this service via the repeat direct orders granted by the Labour government.

Another dubious contract

NGO MMDNA had been providing the nursing service for decades, until in 2015, under the direction of then parliamentary secretary Justyne Caruana, the MMDNA was told that the government no longer required all its services.

After months of fruitless negotiations with the government, the MMDNA gave up. Soon after, the government began talks with Healthmark, eventually signing a multi-million agreement, which also increased prices for the service.

Since then, Healthmark’s contract has been renewed annually by direct order, with costs going up every year.

In its 2018 investigation, the NAO said:

“These circumstances deviate from the provisions of good governance practices as it exposes government to avoidable litigation and possible legal repercussions.”

“Furthermore, the absence of a tendering process contributes towards establishing a dominant position within the industry.”

The NAO also said that “contractual provisions in the contract do not appropriately safeguard stakeholders’ interests” and the contract is skewed to benefit the service provider instead of the government.

Ignoring the NAO’s verdicts

Prime Minister Robert Abela has not only ignoring the NAO’s recommendations on this latest contract, but he’s also shelved the more recent report on the scandalous ten-year St Vincent De Paul direct given to the same owners of Healthmark.

Through an initiative that also began when Justyne Caruana was responsible for St Vincent de Paul, a tender for the renovation of the old people’s facility kitchen was morphed illegally into the building and administration of a 500-bed extension when DB Group and James Caterers were granted an unprecedented €275 million direct order for the project.

Following a three-year investigation, prompted by the then PN opposition, under the leadership of Simon Busuttil, the NAO found that the government had breached all procurement rules and that the contract given to Debono and Barbara was illegal.

While this report should have led the government to rescind the contract, Abela’s response was that he would ‘study’ the conclusions and take the necessary actions to safeguard taxpayers’ money.

However, no action has yet been taken, and the Dobono/Barbara company continues to take in in some €60,000 a day through this illegal contract.

The PN Opposition has also been conspicuously silent over this scandal, even though the investigation was the result of its efforts, albeit under a different leadership.

It is widely-known that both Silvio Debono and James Barbara are frequent doners to both political parties as well as to individual politicians from both sides of the political divide.

Anthony Ellul,the lead government consultant at the department issuing the new tender to Healthmark, previously worked as chief operations director at James Caterers. He is now employed as a “person of trust” by Active Ageing Minister Michael Farrugia.

                           
                               
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Henry s Pace
Henry s Pace
1 month ago

Tahwid , tahwid u aktar tahwid….

Henry s Pace
Henry s Pace
1 month ago

Can the co-opted MP/minister explain what is going on at SVDP residence.
This man looks quite sterile in his doings.

Toni Borg
Toni Borg
1 month ago
Reply to  Henry s Pace

He cannot intervene as Abela will pull him back…..to protect Joseph!!!

Eduard Azzopardi
Eduard Azzopardi
1 month ago

Person of trust in Malta = Person to corruption.

Jingo
Jingo
1 month ago

i.e. try and die young unless you would like to die of malnutrition in some local old people’s home. Good food: the way to good recovery from sickness is a commodity in the days of Lidl and increased farming leases. Kindly eat your BMW instead.

Mick
Mick
1 month ago

Just another day in Mafialand, yet again.

carmelo borg
1 month ago

Dejjem nghid BİRDS OF THE SAME FEATHUR. iL bobby U bendu HALQHOM İNSERRAT.
ZEWG GRUPPİ TA MAFİA organizata. mur tghihom il flus hej fix xahar. Hu umbad jigi xi GAHAN bhal EDDY u xi PAMPALUN tal PN jiddefendihom. Nİ Nİ

carlos
1 month ago

Malta run by Mafia-no hope for this infested rock .
From grey to black. Is it possible that the Maltese GAHAN is so corrupt to let these things happen? Is it possible that the opposition is so weak to let these scandals happen? We are being treated as third class citizens. Shame on us.

D. Borg
D. Borg
1 month ago

Dr. Bernard Grech
Instead of wasting funds to erect “Gahan” puerile billboards, which in turn have to be financed by “donations” you seek from the likes of Debono/Babara,which in turn seem to seal your lips following the umpteenth “direct order bonanza” from OUR taxes….
You are expected – or rather obliged considering the servitude attitude of the Police – to file court proceeding to stall this sickening charade bankrolled on our taxes.
Dr. Busuttil called Debono out, whilst Dr. Delia with all his unforgivable faults – did at least launch and maintained to date, a court case against the Vitalis Hospital robbery.
Let’s see if the PN you’re leading, is capable of taking a step in the right direction…

Godfrey Leone Ganado
Godfrey Leone Ganado
1 month ago

Your last paragraph is a photocopy of the Vitals/Steward Healthcare scheme, whereby the same person responsible for Vitals, resigned and became responsible for Steward, which he is up to this very day.
This is blatant fraudulent trading, with the sponsorship of the godfather state.
Unless ALL political parties are financed by the State, to operate independently, and with equivalence, that is an equivalent minimum required for a solid operational base, politics in Malta, will remain hijacked by bullish businesspersons and bullish professionals. That will maintain the continuity of the last words of Daphne Caruana Galizia: “crooks everywhere wherever you look” and in an indefinite “desperate situation”.

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
1 month ago

The next general election should be annulled as soon as the results are published. Nothing will convince me that no funds will be passed to the Labour Party. It will be a big mistake if the NP accept funds from James Caterers and Silvio Debono.

Toni Borg
Toni Borg
1 month ago

It’s obvious that Joseph Muscat is still running cabinet, or at least Robert Abela in the background.

Debono and Barbara are renown friends of MUscat through whom they were awarded a contract that from a few millions went up to Eur275 million.

now another eight million euro contract on the plate!
how’s that for co petition and good value for money!

Joseph Croker
Joseph Croker
1 month ago

Good governance, my foot! About time that the NAO be given the clout necessary to enforce its recommendations.

Janet Wojtkow
Janet Wojtkow
1 month ago

That will impress FATF!! First step on the road to better governance!!

Toni Borg
Toni Borg
1 month ago

Anthony Ellul, having been kicked out of BOV he found solace in the only party that takes in such rubbish in turn for votes..

rubbish in, rubbish out!

Albert Mamo
Albert Mamo
1 month ago

MONEY NO PROBLEM. ANOTHER GREECE DISASTER IS ON THE CARDS AND WE WILL HAVE TO FOOT THE BILL!!!???

Albert Rossi
Albert Rossi
1 month ago

The PN should name and shame all those involved in all these dirty business deals on a regular basis on Net TV and not just focus on the obvious Vitals and Electrogas contracts. Not everyone follows Shift news, unfortunately.
It is fine to continually remind us of the PN clusters, reorganization, TVM disgrace, etc., however, reviving past forgotten scandals, abuse of power, amounts of funds being stolen on a daily basis is of paramount importance if the PN strives to win the next election.
The voters’ mind needs to be refreshed on a regular basis and often.

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