While refusing to comment on the controversial Vitals Global Healthcare deal, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna played down the issue on Wednesday saying government concessions always stoked controversy.

“Looking back, these concessions have always been controversial,” he said citing the case of the Mater Dei Hospital agreement, as well as the BWSC and Electrogas power plant deals.

The Finance Minister was asked on the matter after addressing an event at the National Statistics Office.

Read: Vitals found ‘novel ways to pocket taxpayer money’

Doubts about the controversial €2.1 billion VGH deal, which had been given a 30-year concession to manage three state hospitals (St Luke’s, Karin Grech and the Gozo General Hospital) have resurfaced recently, following a series of reports by The Shift News.

The latter said that in December 2017 when VGH transferred its concession to Steward Health Care of the US after less than two years, millions had changed hands behind closed doors.

It was also claimed that VGH was involved in financial manoeuvring including a €5 million takeover of a local medical firm called Technoline, which was given exclusive rights to handle procurement for the three State hospitals, which are part of this concession.

Asked what action he took to ensure that taxpayers would get full value of the €50 million given to VGH, Prof. Scicluna declined to comment on grounds that the agreement was subject to a pending court case instituted by the Opposition.

The finance minister insisted that a new government agency was in the pipeline as part of an effort to monitor such concessions.

Asked if he was concerned about the manner in which the VGH deal had been handled, Prof. Scicluna said he “worried on everything every day”.

“There are institutions that examine such matters, such as the auditor general and the courts,” he said.

“What I am interested in is to have the structures in place to ensure that what has been promised is delivered,” he said.

However, when asked specifically to outline the commitments honoured by VGH during its brief stint, the minister refused to answer and cut the interview short.

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