Former minister John Dalli has once again reopened the controversy surrounding his resignation on July 3 2004, writing in this week’s Sunday Times that he was still awaiting an apology from “those who dirtied their hands in this affair”, and declaring the matter was “not closed”.
In a clear sign of defiance, the Nationalist MP wrote on Sunday, just days after the grandiose opening of Mater Dei hospital, that it was the new finance ministry, under Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi’s stewardship, which had allowed Swedish construction giant Skanska to overrun a budgeted Lm93 million price tag on the hospital.
In his column, Dalli wrote that as minister he had refused Skanska’s attempts to disengage from this commitment, accusing Gonzi’s ministry of having succumbed to Skanska and allowing them to overrun the Lm93 million target.
“The Finance Ministry could have sought my advice during these negotiations as the one with a deep knowledge about this situation, but as at that time I was out, they did not. It is their (and the country’s) loss because if they had sought advice, we would surely have saved the country many millions.”
Dalli also wrote that the new hospital lacked a vision of how it should be run.
“The money has been spent. We have a hospital with high specifications – large air-conditioned corridors, a cathedral-like chapel, five-star doctors’ quarters, myriad operating theatres… yet there is one big failure. The vision of a new way of running the Malta hospital has been lost.”
Dalli said he was still waiting for an apology “from those who dirtied their hands” in the Joe Zahra affair: the private investigator who fabricated a report that was a catalyst in the former minister’s resignation, after alleging corrupt practices and implicating the minister’s brother in a handover of cash from Italian supplier Inso.
“This report was believed, was kept hidden from me and was thought that it would be the basis of an investigation against me,” Dalli said of his resignation from foreign minister in 2004.
“Before the investigation could start, the Prime Minister wanted me out of his Cabinet (it was also an opportunity for those who wanted to take over full control of the party and the government, and who saw me as a threat to their designs). Within a few days of my resignation the Prime Minster handed this report to the Police Commissioner.”
Dalli said he had waited “three years for an apology from those who dirtied their hands in this affair. This matter is by far not past history and not closed.”