Gozo elderly home hits new snag as bidder claims illegal €30 million tender award

Gozo’s first ever public residential home for the elderly will have to wait longer, as one of the bidders in a multi-million public tender has asked for the revocation of the award due to claimed illegalities by the Department of Contracts. The home was supposed to open in 2013 but has been left abandoned for the past nine years.

Golden Care Homes Ltd, which posted the lowest bid (€28.3 million) to complete the residence and operate it for several years, objected to the government’s decision to award the lucrative contract to Zaren Vassallo’s Care Malta.

According to Golden Care, a joint venture between FM Core Ltd and Operations Holdings Ltd, Vassallo’s company did not satisfy the financial rules of the tender and should be disqualified.

The bidder is also disputing the way the evaluation committee decided on the award, claiming other irregularities including incorrect interpretation of procurement rules. According to the tender bids, issued almost two years ago and left dormant until the last election, Vassallo’s Care Malta posted the second lowest bid at €30 million.

The project goes back to 2013 when, following a ‘secret’ deal between then Gozo Minister Anton Refalo and Gozo Bishop (now Cardinal) Mario Grech, it was decided that an abandoned former youth centre in Ghajnsielem known as Dar San Guzepp would be leased to the government for conversion into a 140-bed residential home for the elderly.

Both the Government and the Gozo Curia have always refused to provide details on the taxpayer funded deal and declined to publish the contract. However, The Shift has revealed that the deal was for just 15 years, netting the church €60,000 per year from state coffers.

Work started in 2014 and the shell structure was built, but everything came to a complete halt due to lack of funds and the building was left abandoned. In 2020 – seven years after the promised project – the Gozo Ministry finally issued a tender for finishing and managing the facility until the contract with the church lapses.

The public has already paid the church hundreds of thousands of euros for nothing and, when completed, the new home will return to the Curia after just a few years, with the public having financed the church’s private project.

Industry sources told The Shift now that an appeal has been filed, the project will be put on hold again for several months until the issue is decided by the Public Contracts Review Board (PCRB), and possibly by the Court of Appeal.

In the meantime, the government continues to pay the church €60,000 per year for the lease of the unused property. According to the unpublished contract with the government, the church will regain possession in 2028.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
10 days ago

So that makes at least TWO ventures in Gozo being paid handsomely for out of public funds and still not operating after some years – the former Ghajnsielem supermarket on top of Mgarr Harbour meant to be used as offices by Gozo Ghannel and this prospective Old People’s Home.

Why? And who is to blame?

9 days ago

And a particular hotel used for the elderly at Rabat Gozo.


Last edited 9 days ago by Peppi
Gee Mike
Gee Mike
9 days ago

The issue here is not that the church is pocketing €60k a year, but that the Gozo ministry is squandering public money. If the place was mine, I wouldn’t give care less if its put to good use or not as that is not my prerogative. I would have no problem publishing the contact either. But not publishing the contract with Government would make anyone to smell a rat!

Related Stories

The perils of renting in Malta – Ryan Murdock
Roadwork is in the news again as excavators create
Costly rally organised by Silvio Schembri missing in campaign expenses declaration
One of the events organised on behalf of economy

Our Awards and Media Partners

Award logo Award logo Award logo Award logo