[WATCH] PN parliamentary group files judicial protests over VGH deal

It is calling on the Lands Authority to ‘take the necessary action according to law’, arguing that there was a clear breach of the contract signed

PN secretary general Clyde Puli (left) leader Adrian Delia (centre) and justice spokesperson Jason Azzopardi (right)
PN secretary general Clyde Puli (left) leader Adrian Delia (centre) and justice spokesperson Jason Azzopardi (right)
PN parliamentary group files judicial protests over VGH deal

Opposition leader Adrian Delia, has filed a judicial protest in the names of the entire PN Parliamentary group, calling on the Lands Authority to “take the necessary action according to law” over the Vitals Global Healthcare deal, which he described as “shameful”.

The protest addresses the Prime Minister, the Attorney General, the Chief Executive of Malta Industrial Parks Ltd, the Chief Executive of the Lands Authority and the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Lands Authority, as well as Vitals Global Healthcare Management’s various companies, highlighting the fact that Vitals was in breach of the concession agreement through which it was handed public land.

Vitals Global Healthcare was created after a group of investors, as well as a group of Pakistani entrepreneurs, secured an MOU from the Maltese government to take over three state hospitals. Amongst the contractual milestones unmet by VGH are 50 additional beds in Karin Grech Hospital, 80 rehabilitation beds, together with an unknown number of beds for medical tourism at St. Luke’s Hospital, the completion of new buildings at Gozo General Hospital, the completion of renovation at that facility, reads the judicial protest.

Five months before the public request for proposals was issued, the investors behind Bluestone Malta had signed an agreement in November 2014 showing they already knew they would be taking over the Gozo and St Luke’s hospitals.

The Maltese government has consistently refused to identify the real owners of VGH, and never declared all the beneficial owners of the hospital project, whose shareholders include fund manager Mark Pawley and its Canadian director Ram Tumuluri. 

At one point, Tumuluri and Pakistani entrepreneur Shaukat Ali Chaudry were seeking a €50 million equity stake for a renewable energy project, in a meeting with a Norwegian company where they boasted of VGH being valued at €2.8 billion.

The government also failed to state that VGH could use its sole discretion to extend what was believed to be a 30-year concession, to a 99-year one. The only condition was that the government could take back the title over Karin Grech and Gozo hospitals after the 30 years are up, and to do so, it would have to pay VGH €80 million.

“The government breached conditions of a public contract and let a foreign company whose owners we don’t know, take public property, equipment and land,” Delia said. “There is a crystal clear condition in the contract which states that in 3 years there are obligations that had to be fulfilled failing which no transfer should take place. This is why my colleagues and I are here in one voice to protect the rights of the Maltese people that the government is mocking, ignoring and permitting to be trampled on.

“The PN is not going to stay quiet, it is going to speak up both in parliament and in our courts to bring back the property of the Maltese people.”

The judicial protest states that Vitals had missed a number of concession milestones but had not paid any penalties for this, with Delia adding that the PN reserved the right to take legal action in the absence of any steps being taken by the Lands Authority.

The transfer is currently the subject of a pending investigation by the Auditor General.

“It is shameful for the government to, while there is an ongoing investigation, without thinking or considering the consequences of what may emerge continue and allow our property to be transferred to an unidentified person,” Delia said.“Property of the Maltese people, in the healthcare sector…first be given to someone who we don’t know, to someone who buys our property for a euro, to someone who then hypothecates our property to someone who goes bankrupt, despite being given €190,000 every day who is then allowed to choose who to negotiate over our property with.”

A desperate attempt at driving away investment – Labour

In a reaction, the Labour Party described the judicial protest as a “desperate attempt at driving investment away from Malta.

It said that the sight of Adrian Delia with Jason Azzopardi was testament to how, despite promising a “new way”, the leader of the Opposition was being held “hostage” by the same “clique that drove the PN into a wall”.

“Court proceedings by the Opposition intended to drive investment away from Malta are reminiscent of the same negativity that Simon Busuttil used to lead the party with, where every bit of foreign investment, and every innovative concept is attacked,” said the PL. 

Notwithstanding the attack, it said the government should carry on with its plan to transform the healthcare sector, because, “as the Prime Minister said yesterday, in a globalised world, the country can’t stop changing if it wants to beat international competition”.