07 January 2004

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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 Dei Hospital.
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. Simed’s 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 John’s 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 for every

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Editor: Saviour Balzan
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