[WATCH] Delia accuses Abela of being reactive in COVID-19 response

Opposition leader Adrian Delia: government merely reacting to circumstances, instead of planning ahead

Adrian Delia
Adrian Delia

Opposition leader Adrian Delia has claimed government is being reactive to COVID-19 events, failing to provide safeguards for worker and prevent hundreds of lay-offs and company closures.

“The government was forced to introduce three economic packages in a matter of days because after the first two packages were announced, even the social partners criticised the measures introduced,” he said. “And although the third package went further than the first two, it too provided assistance to a mere 60,000 out of over 160,000 workers in Malta.”

Delia said many more will be lost if government delays further in providing blanket assistance to all workers and self-employed. “The government should already have in place plans to implement in three weeks’ and three months’ time. Instead it is obvious the government is merely reacting to events and pressure.”

Thanking health workers on the COVID-19 frontline and other workers supplying essential services, Delia said it was worrying to see local transmissions of the coronavirus picking up. “If government had immediately heeded numerous calls to stop incoming flights from abroad, we would now not find ourselves in this stage,” he said.

Delia and PN MP Jason Azzopardi criticised a call for tenders for a prefabricated hospital to house and treat coronavirus patients. “We reached this point because Vitals and Steward Health Care did not do what the government has paid them to do. We not only threw away a quarter of a billion euros for nothing, but now – in a moment of crisis – we have to fork out more money to build new health facilities after the government gave away three public hospitals.”

The government had since stopped the tendering process, after claims of abuse emerged.

“It’s imperative that the government makes clear what accusations are being investigated to and to publish the report of the investigation into the claims. We hope the government has an alternative plan to this tender in place,” Delia said.

Azzopardi added that Abela was keeping in place a PPP contract with Steward that was costing the public €180,000 a day in pay-outs. “Robert Abela chose to keep in place a corrupt contract for 800 hospital beds that have never been provided. Abela preferred to place sick Maltese individuals in containers instead of taking back the three hospitals the Labour government gave away.”

Azzopardi said one of the bidders for the project is Charles Magro, a contractor who was a constituent of Abela’s from Qormi, and described as a “close friend of Labour’s” who had also supplied outdoor canopies for Abela’s leadership campaign.