Simed alleges that pressure from
Italian government is clear
By Matthew Vella
Speaking to this newspaper, Simed area manager Ferry Dubbers yesterday
alleged that it was "clear, that there has been some pressure from
the Italian government on the Maltese", commenting on the specific
mention of the Mater Dei hospital in the fifth Malta-Italy financial
protocol, which was enacted on 1 January.
The fifth Malta-Italy financial protocol that has assigned a total of
EUR 75 million to the Maltese Islands for technical, economic and financial
assistance includes a specific clause in which part of the money will
be used for the planning, supply and instalment of equipment at Mater
The clause does not make specific mention of medical equipment, the
heart of the rumpus that has frayed bidders and government authorities
on the award of the controversial Mater Dei medical equipment tender.
Simeds Ferry Dubbers, area manager of the Dutch bidder that is
hotly contesting the controversial decision to award the tender to Italian
firm INSO, expressively said that "the clause in the protocol probably
refers to the supply of storage and other logistical equipment, and
not the medical equipment
however, it is clear that there has
been some pressure from the Italian government on the Maltese."
In a statement issued earlier this week, Dubbers said that statements
by Finance and Economic Services Minister John Dalli that the hospital
is not part of the Italian protocol do not "exclude the protocol
to be conditional to the award of the contract to INSO".
Dubbers has strongly criticised the decision by the Maltese contracts
department to have the tender for the supply of medical equipment to
Mater Dei hospital to INSO, after the Public Contracts Appeals Board
decided to revert the initial decision that saw the Italian firm scoop
the contract. Simed are contending the INSO offer was not financially
cheaper nor technologically qualified to meet the criteria laid out
in the medical equipment tender.
Minister Dalli has vehemently defended the latest decision taken by
the Contracts Department, the Foundation for Medical Services and foreign
consultants SECTA, to award the medical equipment tender once again
to INSO SpA and in a statement has
The protocol, the fifth in a series of assistance agreements between
Italy and Malta, covers the years 2003, 2004 and 2005, putting at the
disposition of the Maltese government the amounts of EUR 35 million,
EUR 30 million and EUR 10 million for each year consecutively. The money
is specifically channelled to projects within the economic, cultural
and social sectors, as proposed by Malta.
Mentioned in Article 2 of the protocol, which lists the projects submitted
by both the Maltese and Italian governments, "planning, supply
and instalment of equipment at Mater Dei Hospital" is a specific
clause within the Article. This is also accompanied by two other health
projects which includes the supply of an information system at Mater
Dei, and research into mental health.
The protocol specifically states that both parties will endeavour to
intensify their continued co-operation in the sectors of transport and
the fight against pollution, and to continue negotiations on agreements
with regards to historical and cultural conservation and restoration,
investments protection, and collaboration and vigilance on maritime
and tourism affairs.
The agreement also states that both parties will strive to promote economic,
industrial and technical co-operation, with particular regard to mainly
export-oriented sectors capable of creating new employment opportunities.
The projects which have been chosen are: road network modernisation;
the creation of a sewage system for the north of the island; instalment
of an incinerator at the government abattoir; and the strengthening
of maritime vigilance. In the area of education and culture, the financial
protocol will cover scholarships for Maltese students, studies on the
European Union, and the restoration of the sixteenth-century organ and
the Italian chapel in St Johns Co-Cathedral, Valletta.
The projects have been submitted by both governments. Final payments
for each project cannot exceed more than one per cent of the Italian
grant allocated to the project, with maximum fluctuations reaching EUR50,000