The procurement office within the Health Ministry, the Central Procurement and Supplies Unit (CPSU), has spent almost €5 million on 220 separate direct orders over the first six months of the year.
An analysis by The Shift, based on data published in the Government Gazette, shows that Technoline Ltd – involved in several controversies, including the “corrupt” privatisation of three public hospitals, received hundreds of thousands of euros from the state coffers through 32 direct orders issued in six months.
These direct orders top dozens of other government purchases from Technoline during the first half of the year.
While most of the direct orders dished out by Chris Fearne’s ministry involve small amounts of under €10,000 and could be somehow justified due to their healthcare aspect, others were of a significantly higher value.
The list includes others who are regular recipients of direct orders.
RSM – the auditing company founded by the auditor of the Labour Party who was later appointed by the government as Bank of Valletta chairman, Deo Scerri – appears on the list. This time, the direct order was for accounting services in different areas, including the Pharmacy of Your Choice (POYC) scheme. RSM received more than €35,000 for these services.
Casa Francesco, an old people’s home in Santa Venera that was shut down in 2015 due to “poor service”, was given €120,000 in a direct order for unspecified ‘long-term care’. These types of contracts are handled by the ministry for the elderly.
The politically appointed executive chairman of Public Broadcasting Services, Mark Sammut, continues to receive direct orders from the health ministry through his private company, Mall Systems Ltd. For some time, his wife, Carmen, served as the health minister’s chief of staff.
Support Services Ltd – one of several companies owned by entrepreneurs Silvio De Bono and James Barbara – was given almost €200,000 to provide support for the stores and the distribution service required for the free medicines entitlement.
Mek Services, owned by Joe and Mark Gasan and their family, was given a new €84,000 direct order to provide maintenance services at Mount Carmel Hospital and other mental health care centres.
Signal 8 Security, owned by Labour activist and former policeman Jovan Grech, was also given a new direct order, this time to provide ‘clerical services’, for €47,000. The security company has received millions of euros from state coffers in tenders and direct orders over the past years.
The CPSU is managed by Karl Farrugia.