Dalli informed of hospital’s closure agreement ‘six weeks after its signing’

Former social policy minister John Dalli appears before an independent inquiry investigating the use of concrete of inferior quality at Mater Dei Hospital

Former PN social policy minister John Dalli
Former PN social policy minister John Dalli

Former social policy minister John Dalli has told a government inquiry into the below-specification cement foundations found at Mater Dei Hospital, that he was only informed of the details of a 2009 project closure agreement between the Foundation for Medical Services and Skanska Malta Joint Venturem, six weeks after the signing.

The agreement signed on 19 February 2009 included a waiver that has been described by the government as problematic, as it attempts to seek liability on a purported €35 million bill to address structural problems related to the cement laid at Mater Dei back in the 1990s.

What raises questions over the “blanket waiver” in clause 9 of the agreement, is that the agreement itself is a waiver of outstanding claims that were being raised by the two sides.

In a statement issued Saturday, Dalli said that he was asked to appear before the inquiry being led by retired judge Philip Sciberras.

“During this session it was established that I was only informed about the closure of the Project Closure Agreement about six weeks after it was signed,” the former minister said.

Referring to an email sent to him by the then chairman of FMS, architect Paul Camilleri, it was pointed out that the minister had not been properly informed of the agreement, except for “brief” information.

“Dear John, I realize that 1 [sic] have not communicated with you directly regarding the closure of negotiations with Skanska, despite the fact that Brian [St John, then acting chief executive of the FMS] advised me that he had briefly informed you about it,” Camilleri wrote in an email to Dalli.

The email proceeded to list the salient points of the contract. According to Dalli, “these salient points on which I could have been briefly informed, do not mention waivers, especially the additional waiver agreed to at the end of the contract…

“This shows the dishonesty and malicious intent of those who tried to point fingers at me in an attempt to extrapolate some bad practice or intent on my part. These same people must have known about these facts,” the former minister said.

Former prime minister Lawrence Gonzi, who said that the agreement was never presented to the Cabinet, has also declared that he would “have never authorised or countenanced such a blanket waiver.”

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