The former Minister of Health and socialist candidate for the Generalitat, Salvador Illa, appeared this Monday in the parliamentary commission of Congress that investigates corruption in health material contracts during the worst of the pandemic. Illa, who was head of Health during the first and most complicated months of the pandemic, has responded for half now to the questions of the Popular Party spokesperson, Elías Bendodo, who has tried to link him with the plot that nested in the Ministry of Transport during the mandate of José Luis Ábalos. “He has Justice on his heels for the management he did in the Ministry of Health,” the conservative deputy snapped in the first minutes of the interrogation.

“I regret that I accuse with so little basis,” responded Illa, who stated that up to 72 investigation and audit actions have been carried out in the Ministry that he directed between January 2020 and January 2021 “without any reproach against any position.” linked to that department. The former minister has acknowledged that purchases of medical supplies were made “above usual prices” or from “lesser known” suppliers, but he has framed these actions in the needs of the pandemic and has denied the “trail of irregularities” that he has tried to reveal. attribute the PP deputy to him.

Illa has acknowledged that he met “once” with the former advisor of former minister Ábalos Koldo García, who is accused of several crimes in the National Court, all of them related to the purchase of masks by the central Administration during the pandemic. However, he has assured that he indicated the procedure, “referred him to the technicians” and the “result” was that nothing was contracted with Management Solutions, the company that is at the center of that plot and that had profits of more than 16 million euros in just two months supplying medical supplies to different administrations.

“The Ministry of Health did not contract with Management Solutions. I don’t know if I have to say it in Latin,” Illa said in response to Bendodo’s repeated questions. The former minister explained that this company was authorized to be part of a framework agreement for the supply of medical supplies in a joint venture with Ferrovial Services. However, no autonomous community resorted to this framework agreement, so “not a single euro” was contracted with this company.

Sumar’s spokesperson, Aína Vidal, insisted on this point. “I had no suspicions about Koldo. Neither from him nor from anyone. He had no dealings with this person. And if he had had any suspicions, he would have brought it to the attention of the authorities,” responded the former minister, who added that he found out about the plot for which García is being investigated through the media.

Minutes earlier, Bendodo had tried to link without evidence a visit by the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, to Hersill, an SME in Móstoles (Madrid) that manufactured respirators for Health with an alleged payment of “8 million euros in commissions.” According to the PP spokesperson, the award to “an intermediary”—the Escribano company—generated an extra cost. In this regard, Illa explained that it was “a collaboration between the two companies” and that the technical teams of the Ministry with collaboration from Industry helped this company to increase capacity in a “critical situation.”

The Catalan campaign in the investigation commission

The intervention of the ERC spokesperson, Gabriel Rufián, showed the proximity of the Catalan campaign. Rufián raised the tone against the Government’s management of the pandemic when compared to the speech maintained until now. He even talked about Illa’s time as mayor to remember that he had “problems with a golf course.” When asked by the ERC spokesperson, Illa described his management in Health during the pandemic as “decent, hard-working and effective.” Rufián replied: “What is decent about paying 3 million euros to some plaster manufacturers for respirators that did not arrive?”

Rufián, who interrupted Illa’s answers on several occasions, rehearsed several tweets during his speech: “It was very complicated to do everything well but it was also very complicated to do everything so badly”, “you had worse luck hiring than El Coyote” or “When Once a public office is scammed, it’s the scammer’s fault; When two do it, it is public office; “When you get ripped off by three, there’s tomatoes here.”

At the end of Rufián’s turn, Illa also alluded to the Catalan campaign, in which the former minister repeats as a PSC candidate. “I would be lying to you if I told you I was surprised by his intervention,” said Salvador Illa.


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