Nine years and €540,000 squandered: Blunder leads to cancellation of €30 million tender for home for the elderly

A €30 million contract to develop a new home for the elderly in Gozo awarded to mega-businessman Zaren Vassallo has been cancelled, with the Public Contracts Review Board (PCRB) ordering a whole new evaluation process following yet another blunder by the Gozo ministry.

The project is now back to square one after an objection filed by Golden Care Homes Ltd – the lowest bidder for a tender to complete a new public home for the elderly in Ghajnsielem and to manage it for a few years – was upheld.

The PCRB has agreed that the evaluation committee, composed of Gozo ministry officials, had incorrectly evaluated the tender and that it had to Golden Care Homes Ltd.

In its decision, the PCRBN ordered the cancellation of a notice to award the tender to Vassallo’s Care Malta Limited and to start a new evaluation afresh, this time taking Golden Care Homes’ bid into consideration.

This means that Golden Care Homes– a joint venture between FM Core Ltd and Operations Holdings Ltd – is now in pole position to take the tender as its bid is around €2 million lower than that submitted by Care Malta.

The decision, however, can still be appealed in court.

Secret 2013 deal sees Gozo Diocese receiving €60,000 a year for a still-abandoned building

While the never-ending saga over the prospective Ghajnsielem home for the elderly drags on, the government has been paying the Gozo Diocese some €60,000 a year in rent on account of a secret deal struck between the government and the Diocese back in 2013.

To date, the Curia has received almost €550,000 in rent for the building, which was meant to have opened its doors as a home for the elderly nine years ago.

It was shortly after the Labour Party was swept to power in 2013 that then-Gozo minister Anton Refalo announced an agreement with Bishop (now Cardinal) Mario Grech to turn an abandoned youth centre on Ghajnsielem’s main road, known as Dar San Guzepp, into a 140-bed residential home for the elderly.

However, nine years and three Labour Gozo Ministers later, the building is still in a state of abandonment while the government continues to fork out rent to the Gozo Curia in what has become known in Gozo as “a comedy of errors”.

While construction to convert the former youth centre had begun in 2014, work ground to a halt when Refalo was removed from his ministerial post by disgraced prime minister Joseph Muscat in 2017 and was replaced by Justyne Caruana.

Since then, the government has been toying with a new tender to finally complete the project as the 15-year agreement with the  Gozo Curia is now drawing to a close.

Both the government and the Gozo Curia have rejected calls for transparency by The Shift, which has asked them to disclose the contract that was signed behind closed doors.

This latest blunder, in which the Gozo ministry evaluation committee erroneously interpreted financial information and unjustly disqualified a company with a lower bid, will mean the process will now have to start over from scratch.

In the meantime, more time is being lost while the government continues to pay millions of euros a year to private homes for bed space to compensate for its own shortages, and while the Gozo Curia continues to receive lucrative rent payments for what is effectively an abandoned building.

                           
                               
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Out of Curiosity
Out of Curiosity
1 month ago

Elderly people who are being placed in private homes by the Government are in their majority treated as second class residents, and perceived as low class since they cannot pay for their stay themselves.
With regard to the rent that this Gov is paying to another corrupt institution, is a typical case of how public funds are being maladministered by this highly corrupt administration and how these people in power play the part of the generous with people’s money. SHAME ON YOU!!

Shirley-anne Cecchini
Shirley-anne Cecchini
1 month ago

Having seen first hand the treatment of the elderly in a private home where the government had purchased beds, all residents are treated equally. Out of Curiosity how do you know these facts? Which are unfounded.

Out of Curiosity
Out of Curiosity
1 month ago

First hand experience as well. So, not really unfounded as you say. I cannot mention homes by name, but I have assurance about two of them, and they are well renowned too.

Joe Borg
Joe Borg
1 month ago

Maybe have a word with my grandmother who was staying at Downtown Hotel in Gozo (owned by Portelli) who was in her last hours had it not been for our intervention. Maybe Mrs, you should het your facts straight.

carlos
1 month ago

THE SITUATION NOW IS MORE THEN DESPERATE. LOST ALL TRUST IN MAFIAMALTA Corruption 360 degrees.

Winston Smith
Winston Smith
1 month ago

Yesterday an archpriest was splashed across the media for allegedly misappropriating half a million euros. Not a single day passes by where we don’t hear of millions being squandered by our government. However, all of the latter class of criminals are immune to the same justice that befell this archpriest.

Francis Said
Francis Said
1 month ago
Reply to  Winston Smith

Actually he was a Parish Priest. Being a priest does not make one immune to temptation. They are human beings just like us. If they break the law, they have to face the consequences both when alive and with God Almighty.

Carmelo Borg
1 month ago

Tried Tara ghandux staff biex imexxi home il gvern

Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
1 month ago

I would certainly not call the whole saga a ‘comedy of errors’ – but rather a tragedy of human ‘blunders’ (for want of a better word) costing waste of public money and, more importantly, obscene waste of time in establishing a proper and much-needed government-run home for the elderly in Gozo.

A. Cassar
A. Cassar
1 month ago

No body cared enough to do their job.

Joseph Micallef
Joseph Micallef
1 month ago

So now, 9 years later, this contract will be cheaper? How? Is the cheapest bidder going to keep his rates? If yes, how is he going to deliver what is specified at 9-year old prices?

There is only one way to do this, a fresh call for tenders.

carlos
1 month ago

cheaper on paper – the rest in direct orders to the crooks who are hand in hand with this corrupt government. there’s always a way out.

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