Robert Abela announced: “The National Audit Office (NAO) report confirms I was right”. No, it didn’t. Abela is either delusional or deceitful. Or he just hasn’t read the report.
The Auditor General’s report condemns Abela’s incompetence. It denounces his total ineptitude.
Abela spent months renegotiating the concession agreements when those agreements couldn’t be renegotiated. He wasted his time, his ministers’ time and senior civil servants’ time on an ultimately futile exercise.
The NAO report lambasts Abela. It broadcast its incredulity at his utter failure.
According to the NAO report, Abela’s error “ought to have been evident”.
Abela is a lawyer. He should have known he couldn’t renegotiate the concession agreements. But Abela always thinks he knows best. And as is often the case, he was wrong.
He messed up. That says a lot about Abela’s competence as a lawyer. It also exposes his dangerously oversized ego.
The NAO pointed out that “certainty on the parameters of negotiation ought to have been established at the outset. The NAO is of the opinion that the belated verification by the government as to the legality of the proposed restructuring of the concession was an avoidable omission”.
This saga encapsulates the comical amateurism of Robert Abela. He embarked on an exercise in futility, trying to renegotiate a concession agreement that couldn’t be renegotiated.
He didn’t bother seeking advice or consulting anybody. “Earlier recourse to the Department of Contracts and the State Advocate would have avoided futile time and effort being expended,” the NAO said.
The NAO took Robert Abela to the cleaners. But hilariously, Abela claimed that the NAO report confirmed he was right. What planet is he on?
The tragedy is that half the population will believe him, thanks to ONE and TVM. Abela knows that very few will read the voluminous NAO report.
That is why Abela was desperate to discuss the 450-page report in parliament within an hour of its publication. He wanted to get his distorted interpretation of that report out before anybody had read it.
Abela achieved nothing. He let the country down. Apart from the completion of Barts Medical School, “all other concession milestones were not achieved while the concession was under the control of Steward Health Care”.
Abela is amazing at blowing his own trumpet. Hearing him speak, you would have thought he’d managed to make Steward fulfil its contractual obligations. His lavish praise of Steward’s achievements in parliament gave the impression Steward was a roaring success. The truth is Abela didn’t even know what Steward was up to.
“Government’s visibility over the concession was insufficient, for it failed to constitute the Health Management Committee and the Maintenance Monitoring board, which were committees of oversight contemplated in the Service Concession Agreement”.
While Robert Abela was wasting his time renegotiating the concession, he failed to set up those committees that were meant to ensure Steward was delivering on the millions it was paid.
Abela was napping. He failed in his duty to protect the interests of the nation. He lost his way chasing his tail and squandered every opportunity to reclaim what was rightfully ours.
Robert Abela falsely claimed that he stood up to Steward. He didn’t.
“The Service Concession Agreement provided a mechanism to address specific instances of default – one such case was the SHC’s (Steward’s) failure to submit a performance guarantee”. Abela had contractual mechanisms of redress at his disposal. Abela could have and should have taken action when Steward failed its duty. Abela should have terminated the concession. He didn’t.
The concession carried an obligation of an investment of €200 million. Steward’s “failure to effect the capital investment as contracted stunted the advancement of health services provided and in the case of SLH (St Luke’s Hospital) resulted in the dereliction of the facilities,” the NAO report states.
Abela’s inaction “stunted the advancement of health services” and led to “dereliction of facilities”. What is even more galling is that Abela rewarded Steward for their abysmal failure with €214 million, apart from another €188.5 million in salaries.
Abela is guilty of far worse. As a member of Muscat’s cabinet, Abela let Joseph Muscat and Konrad Mizzi dupe him. With all the cabinet, Abela consented at that 27 August 2019 cabinet meeting to Mizzi’s Macchiavellian deal.
Mizzi and Muscat had also been engaged in negotiations with Steward that “were to result in additional payments by the government to the concessionaire without any increase in services”.
Mizzi had not sought authorisation before agreeing that the government would act as guarantor for almost €36 million of Steward loans from Bank of Valletta.
Abela knew the damage Muscat and Mizzi had wrought on the country. He knew they had deceived him, his fellow cabinet colleagues and the nation. He knew exactly what they were up to. Thanks to an international investigation by The Shift, The Times and OCCRP, the details have emerged.
Just nine days after he stepped down, Muscat signed a deal with a company linked to Vitals which would earn him €15,000 per month for 36 months, automatically renewed for further periods of 36 months. Muscat was sorted for life.
His contract ensured he would receive €180,000 annually for the rest of his life. The company that was paying Muscat tens of thousands of euro, Accutor, was formerly VGH Europe. It received over €3.6 million from Steward.
The company also co-incidentally paid Ram Tumuluri, Shaukat Ali and his son millions. Muscat claimed he didn’t know that, like him, Shaukat Ali and his son were also “consultants” for Accutor.
Abela knew all this. Instead of revealing the truth about Muscat’s deceit, Abela covered up for Muscat. Abela didn’t have the decency to tell the country about Muscat’s villainy. He kept defending and hugging Muscat. Abela even attacked the magistrate who ordered the search at Muscat’s residence to shield him from justice.
Why? Because Abela’s self-interest eclipses his duty to the country. Because he is constrained to cover up the crimes of his predecessor. Because he is a spineless scoundrel unable to choose right from wrong.
Well written. A reflection of MY sentiments of Abela, in a nutshell!
Robert Abela has to defend his actions even if he has to lie through his teeth.
Abela has absolutely no interest in the country as he has shown time after time. He’s only in there to maintain his extravagant lifestyle financed by us. He was gullible enough to accept the poisoned chalice from the then head crook Muscat, a choice he now must regret. Unfortunately he lacks courage and the demeanour to throw this towrag in jail and move forward away from this dystopian state we live in. Dead man walking whatever he decides.
Excellent article as usual Kevin.
As we say in Maltese, il-kuntratti ‘qaxxarthom bhal qamla’.
Abela is another puffed conman and as regards his legal capabilities, ask members of the profession and what they tell you, convinces anyone that his academic qualification was a gift and his professional career an embarrassment to his profession.
How right his daughter was, to give him the nickname of Sponge Bob.
Tinsewx li Bertu qieghed fil
pjan dijaboliku. Rajtuh lil miserabli ex PM Muscat meta intervistawh il gurnalisti,qisu rid jghid li hu martri u jekk xi hadd imisu ser jaqla l inkwiet. Lil min ser jaqla l inkwiet? Lil Bertu l Faust!
Ix xitan jidhol fir ruh min gol but u dejjem jilaghba tal miskien izda kif jigi dahru mal hajt jibda jehded li ser jaqla l inkwiet.
IF Abela was Muscat’s adviser, no wonder Muscat is in the trouble he’s in.
Boobby has the backbone of a jellyfish.
absolutely right when he said –
A PACT WITH THE DEVIL.
Shame on you bob,
Abela has never been right during his premiership except once when he thought he was wrong and he was right