Repubblika requests Standards investigation into Konrad Mizzi no-show on Vitals audit

Repubblika files ethics breach report against former Labour minister Konrad Mizzi over his deliberate no-show in the NAO audit of the Vitals Global Healthcare hospitals deal

Konrad Mizzi
Konrad Mizzi

Konrad Mizzi’s refusal to be interviewed by the National Audit Office (NAO) over Vitals Global Healthcare should be investigated over an ethics breach by the commissioner for standards in public life, NGO Repubblika said.

The NGO filed an official request to the George Hyzler, reporting Mizzi’s refusal to attend NAO interviews on the controversial hospitals privatisation concession.

The disgraced former minister Konrad Mizzi did not deign to meet the National Audit Office to defend his role in the controversial privatisation of three state hospitals which he presided over.

The NAO said that Mizzi’s failure to attend to the several requests constituted “a serious failure on his part in terms of the level of accountability expected of a former minister of government and in terms of the standard of good governance that ought to have characterised a project as material and as important to the national health services as was this.”

Repubblika said this was a “grave breach” of the code of ethics by which Mizzi remains bound, citing the Code of Ethics which obliged Mizzi to answer for his conduct.

“Although Mizzi is no longer a minister he is still a MP and regardless of his current status he was instrumental in the disastrous transfer of Maltese hospitals management onto Vitals and therefore obliged to explain exactly how that was orchestrated,” Repubblika said. “Mizzi’s behaviour is unacceptable and an insult to our democracy”.

The NAO report on the Vitals deal singled out the failure to secure financing by the unknown investors in VGH led by Canadian boss Ram Tumuluri was the cornerstone on which all other failures developed.

The report said how due to this every single one of the envisaged improvements to services and infrastructure at the hospitals were rendered impossible. However the NAO also pointed to the government's apparent readiness and acceptance of these failures that allowed the situation to degenerate and persist “Instead, the government’s representatives, while bypassing Cabinet, endorsed multiple waivers of the requirement to secure financing, thereby perpetuating the failure that this concession came to represent.”

The National Audit Office also pointed toward the lack of clarity on the negotiations held between the Muscat administration and VGH due to “a lack of documentation kept and conflicting accounts”

The NAO also detected deviations from the original scope within the contract that shifted the objective of the concession thereby altering the risk for the Maltese government as well as the prospect of revenue from the project. The NAO also stated governments “critical failure” to consult with stakeholders, which resulted in “the concession failing to meet its intended objectives, be it the health-related improvements originally envisaged and the classification of the concession as off-balance sheet, which failure implied that the VGH’s capital expenditure on the project was registered on the government’s accounts,”

The NAO said the way the Muscat government revised VGH’s deliverables was “consistently adverse to government” creating a significant reduction in services “without any change in the compensation due.”