Portelli hotel handed another €0.5 million from public funds three days before election

Gozitan construction magnate Joseph Portelli was the recipient of another half a million euros of public funds through another direct order so that the Downtown Hotel in Victoria, which he owns with another shareholder, continues to serve as a ‘temporary’ home for the elderly, despite issues.

The Shift is informed that the direct order was issued just three days before  Saturday’s election and only a few weeks after Portelli organised a private dinner for Prime Minister Robert Abela which coincided with Labour’s election fundraiser.

The latest direct order to the Downtown Hotel is a continuation of a controversial move made by Steward Health Care in April 2020, when it decided to transfer some 80 elderly residents from St Anne’s Residence at the Gozo Hospital to be able to “temporarily re-purpose the entire geriatric wing into a Covid-19 centre”.

Both Steward and the government, which is footing the bill for this move despite Steward’s responsibility, had insisted at the time that this was just an emergency move and that the residents would return once the pandemic subsisted, but this has so far never materialised.

To be able to justify the use of the hotel as a residential facility for the elderly, even though it was reportedly inadequate, the Social Care Standards Authority,  the government regulator, had issued an emergency legal notice in 2020 giving the Downtown Hotel a temporary six-month licence to receive the residents.

However, so far, the six-month licence has been extended to two years, with the government forking out direct orders of half a million euros every few months to Joseph Portelli and his associate, Raymond Bajada, as owners of Downtown Ltd.

Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri has so far refrained from stating when the elderly will be able to return to their residence at St Anne’s. He also refused to state why the government is forking some €1.6 million every year for this move when the responsibility for the elderly and St Anne’s falls with Steward Health Care through the controversial concession agreement signed by disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

Relatives of the elderly currently at the Downtown Hotel told The Shift that they are never given an answer when they ask about the date when their loved ones will return to their ‘normal’ residence.

“Every time I ask the staff, they tell us that they don’t know anything and that it’s the minister who decides,” a relative told The Shift.

It is not known how the Downtown Hotel was selected by Minister Camilleri as suitable for hosting the elderly, despite problems. No tender was ever issued, although there are several other homes in Gozo which could offer the service and are deemed to offer better facilities than the hotel.

Downtown Ltd is co-owned by Raymond Bugeja of SB Autocentre Ltd (a company that sells cars) and developer Joseph Portelli. The two own other businesses together, including DevGozo Ltd, a property development company.

Portelli has built a reputation during the last years of being too close to politicians from both sides of the political divide, while breaching laws with impunity.

                           
                               
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L-imhallef
L-imhallef
1 month ago

If the Infrastructure Ministry is given to Clint Camilleri as reported in the media, it s a fait accompli and bye bye Gozo.

Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
1 month ago
Reply to  L-imhallef

What’s in a name, when all is said and done!

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
1 month ago

Elections don’t absolve criminality. They are still crooks in my books and they didn’t bribe me with a 200 Euro cheque.

Noel Ciantar
Noel Ciantar
1 month ago

Looks like the public has been made to metaphorically pick up the tab for the dinner in which the host was the Father of Chloe the Farmer and the guest was the PM. To state that the menu appears to have included caviar and champagne is a gross underestimation.

JOHN CASSAR
1 month ago

Iktar ma johorgu dan it-ti ta stejjer skandaluzi aktar ser jitnaffar il-poplu mill-politici korrotti

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