[WATCH] Delia: Steward accounts show Vitals hospitals concession is on brink of failure

Adrian Delia calls on Prime Minister to immediately halt hospitals concession, saying company accounts show it is 'in agony'

Opposition Leader Adrian Delia. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Opposition Leader Adrian Delia. (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)

Adrian Delia is calling on Robert Abela to immediately stop the concession given to Steward Health Care to run three state hospitals in light of audited accounts which show the US company is "on the edge of failure."

Delia referred to MaltaToday's report on Sunday which showed that Vitals Global Healthcare - the company which sold the hospitals concession to Steward in 2017 - had total liabilities which exceeded its assets by €27 million.

The Nationalist Party leader said he had on Monday morning seen audited accounts which indeed confirmed that Steward's total losses for 2016 and 2017 showed the group had a net liability position of €27,382,000.

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The auditor report, Delia said, stated that "this condition and other matters indicate the existence of a material uncertainty which casts significant doubt on the group's ability to continue as a going concern."

"In other words, this is a group on the edge of failue. People's tax money is being paid into a bottomless pit, into a company which is in agony," Delia said.

He said that he Opposition was keeping former prime minister Joseph Muscat, former minister Konrad Mizzi and Finance Minister Edward Scicluna responsible for the situation, and that should Abela and his cabinet also fail to take action, they too would be held liable for what he described as "the biggest theft [from the people] which has ever taken place in Malta."

"I expect the Prime Minister to immediately stop the [hospitals] contract. The government can't work with a failed company," he said, highlighting that Abela too had access to the audited accounts.

Delia gave more details from the audited accounts which he had read, including that Steward had administration expenses of over €25 million, but that there was no breakdown of what the money had been spent on.

The audited account also show that the company's directors received €6 million in remuneration, and that there were also "other expenses" of €24 million. "Does the government know that the other expenses are? Is it true that these include other consultancy fees of €7 million. Who received these fees?" Delia asked.

The accounts indicate Steward owes creditors €43 million, Delia said, as he urged the government to say which local companies would suffer if the debts are left unpaid.

Contract asset values are listed at €11.8 million, he said. "What do these consist in?"

The accounts moreover show Steward made over €18 million in losses in 2017, but, despite this, the government had approved a motion to give the company €17 million more in funding.

"I have more details, but what I have said now is enough information for Abela to make the necessary decisions. He also has to immediately see to it that anyone connected with these contracts is investigated," Delia said, emphasising that steps had to be taken immediately.

Delia added that had the money which was given to Vitals and Steward - for which no work was done in St Luke's, Gozo General and Karin Grech hospitals - been instead invested properly in the health sector, Malta could have been more equipped to deal with possible problems related to the spread of coronavirus globally.