Lord of the lies – Kevin Cassar

“The consistent message that emerged from every part of the report confirms what we’ve always stated – we were firm with Steward and always insisted that they must honour their contractual obligations…. the final decision was that we were not going to change the agreement”.

That was Robert Abela distorting the National Audit Office report about the hospitals concession beyond recognition.

Abela is shameless. His claims are manifestly false.  He is turning the NAO report on its head. Anybody who bothered to read through the 450-page report knows that Abela’s lying – blatantly.

He is constructing an epic false narrative, depicting himself as the defender of the nation who stood up to Steward. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Abela is making four claims.

First, he claimed he “insisted that they (Steward) must honour their contractual obligations”.

But at one of his very first cabinet meetings, on 21 January 2020, Abela provided Steward with a waiver.  Steward was contractually obliged to submit €9 million as a performance guarantee.  Abela had every right to take that money if Steward failed its obligations.

Instead, Abela got his cabinet to let Steward off the hook. He allowed Steward to avoid depositing €9 million. In fact, Steward never deposited that money, contradicting Abela’s second claim that he was always firm.

Abela is all bluster, but no action. Steward was calling the shots while Abela complied.

But that wasn’t the only waiver Abela gave Steward. Abela also got his cabinet to endorse “a waiver with respect to its (Steward’s) obligation to submit the required financing agreement”, the NAO noted.

Steward was meant to provide evidence of having the required financing to invest the famous €200 million into Malta’s hospitals.  After all, that was the one and only reason for the concession.

Labour claimed the country needed the concession to bring foreign investment which it could not afford. Instead, the concessionaires drained over €450 million of our taxes and made no investment whatsoever.

Abela who now brags that he compelled Steward to fulfil its obligations, failed abysmally.

Instead of a €9 million performance guarantee, they gave him a letter from Steward claiming they had a turnover of €8 billion per year. Yet, they needed government to act as a guarantor to borrow a mere €5 million from BOV.

Abela is a disgrace. He allowed Steward to openly defy their contractual obligations. They gave him a piece of paper instead of €9 million. They didn’t bother to submit their financing requirements.

“During the entire period the SHC (Steward) failed to provide the government with evidence that the primary lenders and financing agreements were in place,” the NAO reported.

“In this and other breaches”, Abela “was reluctant to register concessionaire events of default”, the NAO noted. So much for being “firm” with Steward. Abela didn’t lift a finger.

At the cabinet meeting of 14 April 2020, it was pointed out that Steward was in breach of contract.  Instead of springing into action, Abela approved “further transfer of funds” to Steward.

The third of Abela’s false claims was that the NAO report confirmed that “we were not going to change the agreement”.

That’s not what the NAO report said. The NAO was clear: “the parties (Abela’s government and Steward) sought to fundamentally alter the nature of the concession”.

“Fundamentally alter” doesn’t mean “no change”.

In a July 2020 meeting held at the OPM, the government and Steward “agreed on a set of high-level points of agreement”. Records of the meeting submitted to the NAO showed that “in essence the concession was to be modified”.

The minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 18 December 2020 read that “the contractual framework regulating the government and the concessionaire was to be restructured”.

The NAO explained why that ‘fundamental change” didn’t occur.

“Subsequent attempts (at renegotiating the concession by Abela) failed because that which the government and the SHC (Steward) sought to renegotiate proved not permissible in terms of the concession agreements and relevant legislation”.

The NAO noted that “the renegotiated contractual frameworks constituted a fundamental departure from the nature of the concession as contracted”.

Not only was Abela not going to change the agreement but he intended to “fundamentally alter the nature of the concession”.

But Abela’s fourth claim was his most outrageous.

He insisted that “the NAO report confirms and gives clear proof of how we work differently”.

He was referring to the one who must not be named – Joseph Muscat. Abela claims he isn’t a crook like Muscat.

Abela pretends he did things right, as opposed to Muscat. But Abela is no different.

Like Muscat, he waived Steward’s obligations to the detriment of the nation and the benefit of Steward. He permitted Steward to fail even their most basic obligation – to invest money in our hospitals.

The NAO didn’t mince its words: “SHC’s (Steward’s) failure to effect the capital investment 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”.

This is Abela’s doing. He stunted the advancement of health services and allowed the dereliction of our hospitals.

Abela is right. The NAO report shows that Abela was different from Muscat, only worse.

“Payments by government (to Steward) increased substantially year-on-year,” according to the NAO.

When Steward failed to secure funding and couldn’t undertake contracted capital works, Abela sought to allow the government “to assume responsibility for the financing of the project”.

When Steward failed all its obligations, Abela’s cabinet approved payment of an additional €25 million to Steward on 15 February 2021.

Abela also lied when he said the opposition refused to discuss the NAO report in parliament.  “Do you know why they didn’t want to discuss it?”, he ranted. “Because they know that government consistently protects the country’s interests”.

Can anybody believe a word this man says?

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4 months ago

What the hell is this guy consuming? Felfel , his brain is smoked out.

D. Borg
D. Borg
4 months ago

Don’t expect any better from Robert Abela.
However, I am still mystified how George Abela is letting his son dig himself in a deeper hole.

4 months ago
Reply to  D. Borg

Maybe because he is on the deal??

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
4 months ago

Does Robert Abela really expect to be believed if he is standing in the dock.

4 months ago

DARK Lord of the liesfits better for ROBBER Abela,
because he is stealing any trust in justice.

HE don’t work for Malta. HE don’t work for HE is voted for.
Typical for him is talking nicely,
acting so poorly.

Last edited 4 months ago by KLAUS
joe tedesco
joe tedesco
4 months ago


4 months ago

The Abela’s seem to have made many enemies because they are not even being loyal to those who were there for them.

Uza u armi l-hemm!

Last edited 4 months ago by Kris
4 months ago

I presume that, just ‘theoretically’, Steward was not only thinking but also got confirmed that ‘the Maltese government is stupid and easily to be manipulated and duped’.

I als presume that, also just ‘theoretically’, what PM Abela is thinking and he confirms that by his own conduct that ‘the part of the Maltese electorate who voted for PL is also stupid and easily to be manipulated and duped’.

So, both having a laugh about people in Malta, the first about the government and the second about PL voters.

Interesting in all this, even when not mentioned in the article, is the time period in which this took place. The Covid-19 pandemic which should have made the new PM at that time to insist on the financial obligations by Steward towards the Maltese State. The fact that Steward, and I suppose that this was all deliberate, failed to meet its contractual obligations is a matter the PL govt has not just ignored, but in fact encouraged. Instead, to calm the population and help the businesses during the lockdown period, the PL govt took the money from the IIP Scheme to finance all, from wage support to the vouchers for consumation.

It is clear that greedy politicians don’t give much of a damn about the health sector as long as it works and investments, where necessary, have been made (new technology at Mater Dei). But this seems to scratch merely on the surface and doesn’t go with much of the contract obligations to be fulfilled by Steward.

PM Robert Abela can say that he is not like Joseph Muscat. Well, he might be right because in comparison, Robert Abela still comes across like the amateurish successor of Joseph Muscat who is still his master.

Like Steward thought and reckoned with the stupidity of the PL govt, the PL itself reckons with the laziness of many people who have neither an interest nor the time to read 450 pages of a report. That is what makes Robert Abela think and act in a way to be sure that he can turn and twist the content of this report because hardly many people really know what is written in there.

This is all like a fools game and the ones who are paying for all this are the Maltese taxpayers. And even they are split down the middle, with the PLers who obviously couldn’t care less and ignore all the revelation because this might disturb their blood pressure, and on the opposite side the non-PL voters who already have to controll their disturbed blood pressure in order to not burst of anger at this governments failures and lies.

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