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Watch: Parliamentary committee must probe €274m direct order, say PD

Party accuses PN of remaining silent as it calls for a PAC investigation

Video: Matthew MirabelliVideo: Matthew Mirabelli

The Democratic Party is calling for an urgent Public Accounts Committee meeting about a €274 million direct order for the 10-year management of a new facility at St Vincent de Paul Residence for the elderly.

PD MPs Godfrey Farrugia and Marlene Farrugia wrote to PAC chairman on Sunday morning, urging him to call a meeting on the matter and ask the Auditor General to investigate. The PAC is currently chaired by PN MP Beppe Fenech Adami.

The government has kept the contract that it awarded to James Caterers and Malta Healthcare Company, a subsidiary of the Seabank db Group, under wraps and refused calls to publish it.

Commercial lawyers have told The Sunday Times of Malta that from what has been published so far, “there are strong indications that laws have been breached and the deal could be challenged both in local and European courts of law”.

Addressing the media outside the residence, Godfrey Farrugia said the Nationalist Opposition had meanwhile remained silent, “despite the fact that the leader of the Opposition met the contractors who were awarded the contract”.

He also asked why Finance Minister Edward Scicluna did not know about the contract, and why, since then, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had reduced his portfolio.

“Can it be that Dr Muscat is more knowledgeable than Prof Scicluna,” Dr Farrugia asked.

Photo: Matthew MirabelliPhoto: Matthew Mirabelli

On Monday, Prof Scicluna claimed he had not approved a record government direct order of €274 million and admitted he had only become aware of it through a story in The Sunday Times of Malta.

Dr Farrugia insisted that every penny from the public coffers should be spent on improving elderly people’s quality of life, and not appeasing friends of friends.

PD party leader Anthony Buttigieg meanwhile noted that the government was using public assets to favour "the few" to the detriment of the elderly.

The Labour government had promised, back in 2013, that it would invest in care for the elderly within the community, and not large residential institutions, he said.

“We are not against facilities for the elderly and decreasing of waiting lists, however, wouldn’t €274 million be better spent in the community for the rehabilitation of the elderly” he asked.

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