It’s quite rare that a reply to a Parliamentary Question is significant and shocking for what it does not answer, rather than for its contents.
Tuesday evening, reading the reply I got from the Deputy Prime Minister to my PQ 14455, which I tabled on the 7th May, I feel vindicated yes, but so angry and sick to the gills at the putrefying sleaze which has engulfed this administration. Certain members of this Government, after only a few weeks from taking their oath of office in January, manifestly act with the knowledge that the cloak of impunity will be their port of call.
What about Clayton Bartolo?
After asking Government for the umpteenth time why was the public tender for the prefabricated hospital issued last March with much pomp and circumstance not yet adjudicated and if it was, who was chosen to build it, I asked the Deputy Prime Minister, choosing my words very carefully: “Is the Minister in a position to exclude completely that the Parliamentary Secretary in the Finance Ministry (Clayton Bartolo) showed and took an interest in the Request for Proposals (the public call) issued last March for a prefabricated hospital?”
I had purposely tabled a loaded question. I knew from various sources and wrote last March and April, and spoke in Parliament, about the done deal that the call for the prefabricated hospital was. It was a sham.
Don’t forget. Government told us in March that this prefabricated hospital was urgently needed and it was imperative to be up and running by June. The call was left open for barely three days, whilst all of the foreign medical markets which the potential bidders had to contact were on lockdown. The tender’s document only de facto criterion was the cost as technical requirements were not specified. Period. Against all the engrained practice of public procurement in the last 30 years for a massive, complicated, technical project like this one.
After I spoke publicly about a local company contacting a German supplier, weeks prior to the issue of the public tender in March, I know of the heated argument that took place in Cabinet on this issue. I know how close the owners of this local company are with a former high ranking public official in the Muscat Government and with a current member of Cabinet (not the Health Minister whose integrity I do not doubt).
In the meantime, I was given incriminating information which I verified and thus tabled the above Parliamentary Question.
Behind the backs of Fearne and Scicluna
With its reply to my question, the Health Minister in Parliament today avoided, surely not without reason and not due to any haste since this question was tabled weeks ago, to rebut, quash or exclude my allegation.
I alleged that a Parliamentary Secretary, not within the Health Ministry and who does not have anything to do with Health matters and contracts, took a particular interest in a tender worth many, many millions.
And I am making it very clear that he did this behind the back of both the Health Minister and the Finance Minister.
Now, why would such a Junior Minister take such an interest, tell me?
Will the Police Commissioner now take an interest to investigate the interest that this Parliamentary Secretary took in a public call for a prefabricated hospital which has now been abandoned after I outed it as a sham?
Jason Azzopardi is a Nationalist MP