Meta ħadd ma jkun qed jagħti każ

DNO 2015  EIA 2015

 

Meta kważi ħadd ma jkun qed jagħti każ, nhar il-Ġimgħa 14 t’Awwissu 2015, waranofsinnhar, il-Gvern ippubblika żewġ emendi għar-regolamenti li jikkonċernaw il-bini.

Jidher li l-iskop ta’ dawn l-emendi hi li żvilupp li jsir fil-konfini tal-isptarijiet ta’ Għawdex, Mater Dei, Monte Carmeli, St Luke’s u San Vinċenż, ma jkunux jirrikjedu permess sakemm dan l-iżvilupp ikollu x’jaqsam ma kura medika.

Ir-regolamenti li ġew emendati huma tnejn: dawk imsejħa DNO, jiġifieri L-Ordni dwar in-Notifikazzjoni dwar Żvilupp, u r-regolamenti tal-EIA.

L-ewwel emendi, dawk għad-DNO jistabilixxu li żvilupp li għandu x’jaqsam ma sptarijiet hu permess mingħajr ħtieġa la ta’ applikazzjoni u l-anqas ta’ notifika.

It-tieni sett ta’ emendi għar-regolamenti tal-EIA jeżenta żvilupp fl-isptarijiet li semmejt iktar il-fuq minn EIA.

 

Dawn l-emendi saru mingħajr diskussjoni u mingħajr l-ebda konsultazzjoni nhar l-14 t’Awwissu 2015 meta bosta jkunu bil-vakanzi.

Ifissru li dak li jagħmel il-Gvern fl-isptarijiet, issa, l-MEPA m’għandha l-ebda kontroll fuqu. Il-Gvern qed jagħti lilu innifsu l-awtorita li jagħmel li jrid u b’hekk qed idawwar l-arloġġ lura għal qabel l-1992 meta għall-ewwel darba l-Gvern beda hu ukoll japplika għall-permessi tal-bini.

Mela fejn jidħlu l-isptarijiet il-Gvern qed ipoġġi lilu innifsu il-fuq mil-liġi. Għalfejn? It-tweġiba għalija hi ovvja: għandu żewġ proġetti għall-isptar t’Għawdex u St Luke’s li dwarhom wasal f’xi forma ta’ ftehim ma’ żviluppaturi barranin u dak li ftiehem irid iwettqu mingħajr ma jindaħallu ħadd.

 

 

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Sqaq San Filep

 

Wara żmien twil bi ftit li xejn informazzjoni dwar l-isptar ta’ San Filep, matul din il-ġimgħa kellna indiġistjoni.  L-informazzjoni iżda ħarġet bit-tabuxù għax il-Gvern jagħtiha biċċa biċċa. Kif u meta jaqbillu. Qatt biex jinforma.

Is-serjeta’ kienet titlob mod ieħor. Imma s-serjeta’ m’hiex kwalita’ tal-Gvern immexxi minn Lawrence Gonzi.

Kif anke deher waqt id-dibattitu ta’ nhar it-Tnejn li għadda fil-Parlament hemm ħafna affarijiet li m’humiex ċari u għaldaqstant huwa meħtieġ analiżi twila u dettaljata tal-konsiderazzjonijiet kollha li wasslu għall-ftehim bejn il-Gvern u l-kumpanija ta’ Frank Portelli l-Good Shepherd Group Limited, is-sid tal-isptar.

L-ewwel ħsieb imur fuq is-sit innifsu. Għaliex l-Isptar San Filep?

It-tweġiba m’hiex waħda sempliċi. Id-diskussjonijiet kienu ilhom sejrin minn ftit wara l-elezzjoni tal-2008. Ħadd ma qal xejn għal żmien twil. Dak li kien qed jiġri rriżulta minn sentenza mogħtija mit-Tribunal għat-Talbiet Żgħar nhar l-4 t’Ottubru 2012 fil-każ bejn Icon Studios Ltd u Good Shepherd Group Limited. Fil-paragrafu 7 tal-konsiderazzjonijiet tat-Tribunal jingħad li Dr Frank Portelli nhar l-1 ta’ Marzu 2010 semma n-negozjati li huwa kellu mal-Gvern u li kienu ilhom għaddejjin għal 18-il xahar. Il-każ quddiem it-Tribunal kien dwar ħlas konness mad-disinn ta’ website tal-Isptar San Filep mill-kumpanija ta’ Dr Ġeġe Gatt, iben Austin Gatt.

Issa 18-il xahar qabel l-1 ta’ Marzu 2010 jfisser Settembru 2008!  Dan ifisser li n-negozjati ilhom sejrin 4 snin. Bdew ftit wara l-elezzjoni ġenerali tal-2008.

In-negozjaturi ghan-nom tal-Gvern kellhom jikkunsidraw jekk il-pjanijiet tal-Gvern għal sptar ta’ Riabilitazzjoni ta’ madwar 280 sodda setgħux jitwettqu f’dan is-sit ta’ 75 kamra b’110 sodda. Il-ħtieġa li l-kapaċita tal-Isptar tiżdied għal iktar minn darbtejn u nofs tista’ tikkunsidraha billi l-ewwel tħares lejn il-potenzjal tas-sit u wara tara mal-MEPA jekk din il-possibilita tistax titwettaq.

Meta tkellem fil-Parlament il-Ministru Tonio Fenech ma ta’ l-ebda assigurazzjoni dwar jekk il-MEPA tistax toħroġ permess ta’ din ix-xorta. Għamel sewwa, għax jiena naħseb li hu diffiċli ħafna għall-MEPA li toħroġ permess bħal dan. L-issue tal-parking diġa issemmiet fil-Parlament mill-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni: li żżid il-parking b’iżjed mid-doppju m’huwiex faċli f’sit li hu ristrett. Ma dan trid taħseb biex iżżid il-faċilitajiet kollha biex il-kapaċita’ tagħhom tkun addattata għad-daqs ġdid tal-isptar. Jiena naħseb li dan ser ikun diffiċli ħafna. Naħseb li l-anqas jekk l-isptar jitwaqqa’ u jsir disinn mill-ġdid ma jista’ jinħoloq disinn aċċettabbli minħabba li is-sit hu wieħed ristrett!

Meta tqabbel din id-diffikulta’ mal-flessibilita’ sostanzjali li joffri l-Isptar San Luqa, t-team tan-negozjaturi u l-konsultenti tagħhom mill-Fondazzjoni għas-Servizzi Mediċi għandhom ħafna x’jisjegaw. Għax jekk diġa jidher ċar x’diffikultajiet hemm għalfejn tibda l-mixja f‘dak l-isqaq ?  Sqaq li fi żmien tlett snin jista’ jfisser li l-proċess ikollu jerġa’ jibda mill-ġdid b’ħela ta’ ħafna żmien u fondi pubbliċi.

It-tieni punt li rrid nagħmel hu dwar il-fatt li meta l-Gvern għażel li jikkonsidra l-Isptar San Filep immedjatament eskluda l-alternattivi l-oħra kollha li seta kien hemm.

Eskluda l-iSptar San Luqa li dwaru jidher li sar studju dettaljat, skond ma qal il-Ministru Cassar. Dan l-studju identifika li għall-isptar kollu l-ispiża ta’ refurbishment kienet ser tigi tiswa’ ftit inqas minn €40 miljun. Issa biex jinħoloq Sptar ta’ Riabilitazzjoni ta’ 280 sodda m’hemmx bżonn tal-Isptar San Luqa kollu iżda biss parti minnu. Meta tqis id-dewmien ta’ 4 snin negozjati mill-2008 lil hawn (u min jaf kemm ser indumu iktar) hu ċar li kieku ittieħdet id-deċiżjoni favur l-Isptar San Luqa mill-ewwel fl-2008, l-isptar ta’ riabilitazzjoni ilu lest u jiffunzjona għal tlett snin. B’deċiżjoni bħal din favur l-iSptar San Luqa  l-pazjenti kieku ilhom li emigraw għal  faċilitajiet aħjar mill-kurituri tal-isptar Mater Dei.

Waqt id-dibattitu Parlamentari ta’ nhar it-Tnejn issemmiet ukoll il-possibilita li hemm sidien ta’ lukandi  li kienu interessati li jipproponu illi l-lukanda tagħhom tkun konvertita għall-użu ta’ sptar ta’ riabilitazzjoni. Jiena naħseb li proposta ta’ din ix-xorta toffri diffikultajiet daqs is-sit tal-isptar San Filep  kemm għall-parkeġġ kif ukoll biex tipprovdi l-faċilitajiet kollha meħtieġa. Pero’ qabel ma tara l-proposta u tkun konxju ta’ dak li qed ikun offrut ma tistax tifforma opinjoni definittiva.

Meta nqis kollox naħseb li l-unika proposta sura hi li jintuża l-Isptar San Luqa.

Il-problema ma  ħoloqiex Frank Portelli li iddiskuta ma min kien interessat li jixtri l-isptar tiegħu. Ħoloqha l-Gvern li mexa ħażin mingħajr ma qies sewwa u bir-reqqa l-ftit riżorsi li suppost qiegħed jamministra.

Fid-dawl ta’ dan kollu jagħmel sens li min ħa d-deċiżjonijiet jiġi mgħarbel sewwa qabel ma jkun iffirmat il-kuntratt.   Għalhekk hu meħtieġ li l-Parlament jiċċaqlaq.

published in Illum, Sunday 21st October 2012

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