Taż-żejt jagħtu karozza lill-Labour Party ta’ Joseph Muscat

Daewoo veritas

Huwa u jixhed il-bieraħ quddiem il-Kumitat għall Kontijiet Pubbliċi l-bieraħ George Farrugia xehed fl-istess żmien li ta’ riġal ta’ arloġġ tal-lira lil Tonio Fenech (dak iż-żmien Ministru tal-Finanzi) hu u ħutu kienu taw rigal ta’ karozza lill-Partit tal-Labour ta’ Joseph. Fix-xhieda issemma Manwel Cuschieri ex-President tal-Partit li kien in kuntatt dwar dan ir-rigal.

Kif ma qalilna xejn dwar dan ir-rigal is-Sur Manwel!

Il-bieraħ fil-għaxija it-Times qaltilna hekk:

“Pardoned oil trader George Farrugia told the Public Accounts Committee this evening that he and his brothers had given the Labour Party a car at around the same time that they had given former Finance Minister Tonio Fenech a crafted clock.

His brother Raymond, he said, had been in contact with former Labour official Manuel Cuschieri over the Daiwoo donation.

He also said that another two crafted clocks, worth €400 each, had been donated to the Nationalist Party and were included in the Independence Day lottery prizes”

Anke’ l-Malta Today il-bieraħ semmew ir-rigal tal-karozza Daewoo lill-Labour ta’ Joseph. Il-Malta Today tgħidilna iktar. Tgħidilna li waqt il-kampanja elettorali l-kumpanija ta’ Farrugia ipprovdiet numru ta’ karozzi lil Labour u lill-PN. L-anqas din ma qalulna!

Taż-żejt jinvestu fis-sod, anke fil-Labour Party, mhux biss fil-PN.

Grazzi Sur Awditur Ġenerali

Awditur.AMifsud

Min segwa dak li ġara s’issa fil-Kumitat għall-Kontijiet Pubbliċi seta jara kif l-Opposizzjoni Nazzjonalista għal darba oħra fetħet il-kanuni fuq l-Uffiċċju tal-Awditur Ġenerali bit-tama li iċċaqlaq l-attenzjoni minn fuq l-imġieba tal-ex Ministru Austin Gatt.

Naħseb li l-iktar diskors importanti li intqal mill-Awditur Ġenerali Anthony Mifsud u d-Deputat Awditur Ġenerali Charles Deguara kien meta fissru d-differenza bejn li tifformola l-politika tal-Gvern u li tieħu ħsieb li din tkun implimentata.

Meta l-Gvern permezz tal-Ministri tiegħu mhux biss jifformolaw il-politika (policy) iżda jfittxu li jindaħlu fid-dettall ikunu qed jindaħlu fejn m’għandhomx.  Ma jagħmilx sens li taħtar tim ta’ esperti u mbagħad tindaħlilhom. Jew huma esperti jew m’humiex.

Il-konklużjoni ta’ dan kollu hi li spiċċa ż-żmien tal-Ministri “hands on”. Il-Ministru mhux il-Manager. Qiegħed hemm biex jifformola l-politika li għandha tkun segwita. Imbagħad m’għandux jindaħal.

Kif qal  l-Awditur Ġenerali meta Ministru jindaħal fl-implementazzjoni tal-policy din hi prattika ħażina (bad governance) anke jekk il-liġi dan tippermettieh.

Grazzi Sur Awditur Ġenerali.

A case of bad governance

The full process leading to the agreement whereby St Philip’s Hospital is leased to the Government with the option to purchase requires careful examination. Even after Monday’s parliamentary debate, the information is substantially under wraps with only small snippets having been made available to date. The little that is known however, already points towards bad governance.

The Government opted to start negotiations with the owner of St Philip’s Hospital late in 2008, that is four years ago. Commencing negotiations relative to St Philip’s Hospital signifies that alternative sites and options were being excluded: alternative sites were ignored, considered as not being suitable, or as being less suitable than the site under consideration.

The Minister for Health said in Parliament that it would require just under €40 million to rehabilitate St Luke’s Hospital. What the minister forgot to consider was that a basic rule for comparative statements is that, for the comparison to be of any significance, one has to compare like with like. You cannot compare what is required for a 1,000 bed hospital to justify the relative smallness of the sum required relative to a 75-bed or a 110-bed hospital.

The cost to rehabilitate St Luke’s is obviously substantially higher than anything related to St Philip’s. Such comparisons are deceptive. Moreover, parts of St Luke’s are no longer available as they are being used for other purposes.

The potential use of St Luke’s was discarded when negotiations started way back in 2008. If St Luke’s was then considered as suitable, the Rehabilitation Hospital would be up and running by now, saving millions of euros and lots of time. It could have been operational at least three years ago. As a result, it would have been possible for medical personnel at Mater Dei Hospital to deal more appropriately with patients because overcrowding there would have been substantially reduced three years ago, at least.

This is one of the issues which the Auditor General should consider when he examines the process that led to the Government’s decision. I understand that detailed reports are existent. It would be appropriate if these are immediately made available for the consideration of the Public Accounts Committee and the Auditor General.

It should also be considered whether the Government acted correctly when it opted to initiate direct negotiations with one hospital operator to the exclusion of other suppliers of potentially suitable sites. The fact that the Government is not legally bound to issue a call for tenders does not signify that it is good practice to start the process without such a call or, alternatively, with a request for the submission of expressions of interest. The Government, instead, inversed the process linking itself with a call for an expression of interest issued by the owner of St Philip’s!

The tendering procedure is a basic characteristic of public sector procurement so much that even local councils are expected to issue such a call when leasing or purchasing property. Why is it that the Finance Ministry insists on good practice at a local level but then opts for bad practice at a national level? The reasons brought forward by the Government to justify direct negotiations are equally applicable at a local level, yet the ministries of finance and local government justifiably insist on the tendering procedure.

In view of the above, Franco Debono (actively supported by Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando) is insisting that the agreement reached should be shelved until such time that the Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Representatives have examined the whole process.

In view of the seriousness of the matter, that is the possible overriding by Parliament of the Executive’s discretion, the honourable way for the Leader of the House was to deal with the motion submitted by Debono with urgency. It should take precedence over all the Government’s business as it strikes at the most basic of uses.

When documentation is submitted for the Auditor General’s scrutiny there is one particular scrap of paper that I will look out for. This is the advice dished out by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority indicating the possibility to consider an application for the increase in beds at St Philip’s to about 280.

A quick visit to the site of St Philip’s would remove all doubts as to the suitability of the site because it is clear that there is hardly sufficient parking space for the hospital’s current size. The only remote possibility for increasing the facilities at St Philip’s in my view is to redevelop it completely, in which case, costings made have to be calculated afresh. And I have serious doubts whether this can be done.

As I see it, there is no way in which St Philip’s can function as projected. Public funds invested in this project would be monies down the drain. Hence the need for the intervention of the Public Accounts Committee and the Auditor General before the deal is concluded.

 

published in The Times of Malta, Saturday 20th October 2012

A democratic test

The reaction of government to Franco Debono’s motion on St Philip’s Hospital is of serious concern. It will certainly be no feather in the cap for Deputy Prime Minister Tonio Borg if he has to face hearings in the European Parliament in the weeks to come as a possible successor of John Dalli. It is unheard of in a democracy to postpone the consideration of a motion in order that you have a free hand as a result of obstructing Parliament from expressing itself.

Tonio Borg as Leader of the House has to shoulder political responsibility for the manoeuvres which he is orchestrating in the House Business Committee. The motion calls for withholding the conclusion of an agreement between Government and Good Shepherd Group Limited until such time that the process leading to the agreement has been thoroughly examined by the Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee.

Such actions contradict Tonio Borg’s credentials built up in the 70s and 80s as a result of which he is known to one and all as a democrat: a reasonable person, respecting the views of others. These manoeuvres point to a different Tonio Borg.

These manoeuvres are motivated by the fact that it is clear that government no longer enjoys the confidence of the House. Faced with such a fact any democrat would not dare to create obstacles to ensure that such a motion is not considered.

Last Monday’s debate in the House was conceded by government as it did not involve any decision taking. The debate revealed that there are a large number of unanswered questions in respect of the  proposed agreement to lease and eventually possibly purchase St Philip’s Hospital. These require an answer before not after the signing of the agreement.

A democratic government would ensure that Parliament expresses itself at the earliest, and once it has spoken it would seek to follow meekly as directed by Parliament.

This is a democratic test which government must face. So far it has avoided it.

 

Published in di-ve.com on Friday, 19 October 2012

L-Isptar San Filep: Frank w is-serjeta’ tal-Gvern

Fl-opinjoni tiegħi l-prezz miftiehem għall-eventwali biegħ tal-Isptar San Filep mhux wieħed kontroversjali. Tonio Fenech Ministru tal-Finanzi ftaħar fil-Parlament li l-prezz kien bargain. Qal nhar it-Tnejn li għadda illi n-negozjaturi għan-nom tal-Gvern kellhom struzzjonijiet biex jimxu ma’ l-inqas stima (dik tal-Fondazzjoni għas-Servizzi Mediċi) u lil sid l-isptar qalulu take it or leave it.

Frank Portelli sid l-Isptar permezz tal-ishma li għandu fil-kumpanija Golden Shepherd Group Limited  ftit seta jinnegozja minħabba l-istat finanzjarju ħażin tal-kumpanija. Kellu jaċċetta prezz baxx : 62% tal-istima oriġinali tal-periti tieghu.  Fil-fehma tiegħi l-isptar San Filep jiswa iktar mill-prezz miftiehem ta’ €12.4 miljuni. Imma dik m’hiex problema tal-Gvern, hi problema ta’ Frank Portelli li spiċċa kif spiċċa. Kien qiegħed jinnegozja minn posizzjoni ta’ djgħufija.

Uħud, anke f’kummenti fuq dan il-blog, jaħsbu li l-Gvern mexa b’favoritiżmu ma Frank Portelli minħabba s-sessjonijiet ta’ “qrar” li organizza bejn nagħaġ mitlufa tal-PN u l-Kap tal-PN f’Villa Arrigo qabel l-Elezzjoni Ġenerali tal-2008. Il-fatti magħrufa s’issa iżda, ma jippuntawx f’din id-direzzjoni.

Il-Ministru tal-Finanzi nhar it-Tnejn fil-Parlament ftaħar li l-istruzzjonijiet li kellu t-team ta’ negozjaturi  tal-Gvern kien li ma jiċċaqlaqx mill-iktar stima baxxa u jassigura li l-prezz tal-ftehim finali jkun tali li ma jkunx hemm diffikulta’ dwaru mal-Awditur Ġenerali u Public Accounts Committee. Naħseb li l-Ministru tal-Finanzi jaf daqsi li l-prezz hu biss wieħed mill-kriterji.

Fost il-kriterji l-oħra (kif imfisser f’artikli  oħra f’dan il-blog) hemm kemm ser jintlaħqu l-oġġettivi tal-proġett propost.

Meta nhar it-Tnejn fil-Parlament tkellem fuq il-permess meħtieg mill-MEPA biex l-Isptar jikber għall-ħtiġijiet li għandu l-Gvern, il-Ministru  Tonio Fenech wera li ma kellux idea x’ser jiġri!  Il-Ministru jaf li l-għan li l-Isptar San Filep ikun jista’ jikber għal daqs li joffri 280 sodda hu diffiċli ħafna li jintlaħaq.

Minkejja li l-iskop tal-proġett mhux ċar  jekk jistax jintlaħaq il-Gvern xorta ser jgħaġġel jiffirma. Fl-4 snin negozjati ma indenjax ruħu jippreżenta applikazzjoni. Kieku ilha deċiza u kien ikollu kollox bl-iswed fuq l-abjad. Daqstant hu serju l-Gvern!