'Now get the €400 million back' - PN leads Valletta protest over hospitals' deal

The Nationalist Party takes to the streets the appeal to the government to recover the €400 million from the hospitals' deal

PN Leader Bernard Grech at Sunday's protest (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
PN Leader Bernard Grech at Sunday's protest (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

Updated at 6.45pm

The Nationalist Party led a national protest in Castille Square with the theme “Now get the €400 million back” from the hospitals’ deal on Sunday afternoon.

Crowds gathered in Valletta, responding to the party's call to protest against the Court's confirmation of "fraud and deceit" in the deal.

A banner was placed on Castille's footsteps (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
A banner was placed on Castille's footsteps (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

The protest came days after the Court of Appeal dismissed Steward Healthcare’s appeal against the decision to annul the hospitals' privatisation deal.

Former PN Leader and current MP Adrian Delia said that the deal was a collusion to defraud the Maltese and Gozitans.

It was Delia who in 2018 had filed a court case against the government and Vitals asking for the contract to be cancelled and for the three hospitals to be returned to the public.

“That is what the labour government was doing, making backroom deals with fraudsters […] Instead of safeguarding the interests of Maltese and Gozitans the government went behind our backs to rob the nation and defraud it,” Delia said.

He lambasted Prime Minister Robert Abela for saying that he was not to blame for the deal and Health Minister Chris Fearne for saying that everything was done behind his back.

PN MP Adrian Delia (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
PN MP Adrian Delia (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

“Now it’s time for the government to stop being an accomplice and bring back the €400 million. This was not the end of the battle but the start of a war as we want the millions back,” Delia said.

Josef Vella, Chief Executive Officer of UĦM Voice of the Workers, said that until now the government has not shown any remorse for the deal.

He told the crowd that on Monday’s budget, they should ask the government what it could have done with the €400 million if it really put Malta “first and foremost”.

Vella took a dig at the Labour Party for having called the defective concrete at Mater Dei incident as fraud but oversaw the hospitals’ deal.

“How could you tell us that there was a fraud concerning the defective concrete at Mater Dei but then not even get defective concrete for the promised hospital in Gozo?” Vella asked.

“This government made corruption the order of the day.”

PN Leader Bernard Grech said that the government had the interest of Vitals and Steward and not of the country.

He said that the facts speak for themselves, calling out former PM Joseph Muscat, PM Robert Abela and Chris Fearne for their part in the “fraud”.

“Robert Abela was first the consultant of Joseph Muscat, giving him advice on the fraudulent contracts and then kept paying millions to Vitals and Steward,” Grech said.

“You are guilty of robbing the Maltese and Gozitans, the sick and the vulnerable.”

Grech emphasised that it was not true that the €400 million included the workers’ wages.

“€400 million is how much the Istrina would collect in 80 years. With that money you can build seven hospitals – the size of Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre, provide medicine to cancer patients and address inflation,” Grech said.

'Bernard Grech keeps repeating lies' - PL

In a statement, the Labour Party said that Grech keeps repeating lies and attacking the institutions to save his place.

"Bernard Grech repeated two lies. The first that some €400 million were spent, of which the country did not get anything. The second that the government does not take any action - when everyone knows that there is international arbitration and the Government has already opened a case against Steward," PL said.

"Who is partisan enough to even boycott a national agreement on the minimum wage, does not know better than to tease, threaten and lie. That's Bernard Grech."