Michela Spiteri writing in The Sunday Times today is explicit in her criticism of the VGH deal: the flipping of three public hospitals for the profit of unknowns. Do read the full article. But here’s a choice bit:
“Public funds therefore should be collected assiduously and spent well, and not be allowed to cascade lavishly into the pockets of lucky-chancing developers and shady entrepreneurs. (…) What the VGH saga demonstrates, apart from profligate indiscipline with public money, is that gargantuan profits will be made at the taxpayers’ expense. (…) So we need to know, in full, the identities of all such persons, and the names of the politicians and public servants who deal with them, directly and indirectly. At every stage too there must be transparency and accountability. All facts and figures, all deals, must be out in the public domain from day one.”
Hard to add anything to this really. It sums it up nicely.
Perhaps Konrad Mizzi, entirely impervious to criticism from anyone outside his imaginary universe, might be moved to react appropriately to these pointed observations from one he may have expected as his own.
If he doesn’t, will his prime minister?
Because what Michela Spiteri describes is the formal methodology of government. Today’s front page of the same newspapers reports on secretiveness connected with the development of White Rocks. The government is not revealing the price being paid for it. Technically at some point it’s going to have to. If it is granted to someone directly, a parliamentary resolution will be necessary. If it is awarded after competition, a tender process is needed.
But as with VGH the government is burdened by no qualms fixing secret deals in smoke filled rooms and giving the rest of us the little they want us to know.
Michela Spiteri is entirely correct that the VGH saga is particularly significant because it concerns public health, at the very heart of our sense of civilisation. Perhaps the use of waterfront land is not quite as sacred. But it is no less valuable, particularly given how little of it we still have.
Her criticism of VGH should be a lesson for the ongoing processes we are still in time to repair.
It will not be.