Peter Agius lodges formal complaint over St Vincent de Paul direct order

MEP candidate Peter Agius calls on European Commission to investigate ‘ongoing systematic breaches’ of public procurement rules by authorities

The new blocks at St Vincent de Paul elderly residence
The new blocks at St Vincent de Paul elderly residence

The Nationalist MEP candidate Peter Agius has lodged a formal complaint with European Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton over the St Vincent de Paul direct order.

The contract was awarded by negotiated procedure in November 2017. The same companies had already won a separate bid to build a new kitchen at SVPR and construct an extension.

What was intended to be a catering contract was turned into a mega-contract for the award of a new hospital wing built by the DB Group and James Caterers, by way of a negotiated procedure.

In a damning 177-page report, the NAO said that SVPD, a government institution for the elderly, the Ministry for Family and Social Solidarity and the Department of Contracts “acted in breach of legislative provisions” when they sanctioned a negotiated procedure for the management of the new blocks on the basis of urgency.

Lodging the complaint with Commissioner Thierry Breton, Agius said scores of local companies are being excluded from public tenders as Government practices limit the market to a few known operators

“A Local Council is obliged to publish a request for competitive offers for a playground of 10,000 euro while the Government dishes out direct orders of millions without publication and without competition, excluding potential bidders and hiking the bill for the tax payer,” Agius said.

He said the continued abuse of tax payer money cannot continue any longer. “The European Commission should monitor more closely Maltese public procurement practices to ensure wider competition, allowing scores of small Maltese companies to enter the now barraged public tendering market.”

Agius said the European Commission must investigate the “ongoing systematic breaches” of public procurement rules by authorities.

“Public procurement rules include very clear provisions obliging all public authority to guarantee transparency and wide competition,” he said.