Updated to include PN MP Adrian Delia’s speech in parliament on the Steward Health Care scandal
The Shift’s revelations about Steward Health Care’s statements in court that the contract they acquired from Vitals Health Care was “mired in fraud and corruption” means that any MP who votes for the government’s budget, to give Steward an additional €20 million a year, would be voting openly for corruption, PN MP Adrian Delia said in a press conference on the Nationalist Party’s plans for the health sector.
The press conference was addressed by Nationalist MP and spokesperson for health Stephen Spiteri and MP Mario Galea, as well as Delia, and focused on the PN’s plan for the health sector should they be elected to govern.
Delia, following up on a speech he gave in Parliament on Monday, said he was “astonished” that there has still been no denial of the details exposed in The Shift’s article from the government or from Steward Heath Care.
“For the first time in history we have a company admitting it has a corrupt contract with the government and the government is going to pay clean money on a dirty deal,” he said, adding “this has never happened before”.
The Shift’s article, published last week, on the government’s agreements with Steward Health Care, revealed that agreements the government has so far kept secret had been filed in court by the company to argue the deal was “fraudulent” and “corrupt”.
The Shift’s investigation outlined how the government attempted to pass off a €20 million increase in funding in the last budget as an ‘investment in healthcare’, neglecting to explain that the increase would go straight to Steward Health Care’s coffers, according to the documents filed in court.
Delia questioned how the money could actually be transferred to the company, given Steward Health Care’s own statements that the deal was corrupt. “Which bank are Steward using?” he asked. In the current climate, with the focus on provenance of funds, “so, we have a bank accepting €70 million in a year, millions every week, when it knows the contract is corrupt?”
He called for the regulator to intervene, saying that banks have been investigated and penalized for accepting far lower amounts without doing the proper verifications of funds being deposited with their institutions. “Which bank is going to accept this money?” he asked, “when they have a declaration by the company itself, not an allegation by someone else, but a declaration by the company itself?”
While at the moment the government and the Opposition are discussing the budget, “eventually we have to vote on it,” Delia said. If the government has not yet denied this story, with proof, by the time parliament comes to vote on the budget, Delia said he is “warning MPs” that “any one of them who votes for the budget will be breaking the law because they will be voting to pay taxpayers’ money on a corrupt contract that was declared so by the company itself that is to receive the money”.
Delia followed up his arguments in a speech in parliament the same day.
PN Health Spokesman Stephen Spiteri detailed the various areas of health care, including better access to treatment for people suffering from a range of different illnesses and increasing the number of healthcare workers across the sector, that the PN intends to address if it wins the next elections.
PN MP Mario Galea spoke about his own struggles with mental health, after having given a speech about the subject in parliament on Monday, and stressed the importance of eliminating the stigma around mental health in order to ensure that anyone suffering feels able to reach out and ask for help.
You can read The Shift’s investigation on the documents revealed in court here.