A proposed Building and Construction Authority currently being debated in Parliament is a shell that will give rise to abuse and lack of transparency, Malta’s Chamber of Architects has warned.
Speaking during a press conference today, Chamber President Andre Pizzuto warned that any institutional structure with weak foundations is bound to eventually collapse.
He said that the Chamber has been effectively kept out of discussions on the creation of the authority, with the Chamber’s requests for consultation meetings with both the Government and Opposition falling on deaf ears.
“This furthers our concerns that a law that could benefit the common good will not reach its intended objectives,” he said.
Pizzuto explained that the bill is intended as an enabling act, which is solely aimed at setting up the authority with certain duties and powers. Its procedures and regulations will only be enacted through subsidiary legislation.
“The bill and certain statements made in Parliament indicate that instead of an authority with a clearly defined structure, such as the Planning Authority, the BCA will be but a shell,” he said.
Power instead will be focused within the board of the BCA, which will handle the administration, accounts, communication strategy, HR strategy, licensing reviews, and much more.
The bill also assigns powers to the Board to delegate its functions. However, it does not specify which functions it may or may not delegate.
“It is also silent about the procedures by which such delegations may take place. This may give rise to abuse and lack of transparency. Procedures which are not specified in the law, cannot be contested or appealed when breached,” he said.
The Chamber, Pizzuto said, was also concerned that through this any non-government organisation. He noted that recently both the government and opposition indicated their support to allow the Malta Developers’ Association on to the board.
Licensing, he said, remained an issue with the licensing of contractors not featured in the bill. Pizzuto explained that according to the Civil Code, architects and contractors are jointly responsible for the project for at least 15 years. However, architects have no say in which contractors they work with.
“We, therefore, have no control over who we share our responsibilities with. It is therefore imperative that licensing takes place, so that both the profession, but more importantly those commissioning works, can put their minds at rest regarding the competences of the contractors being engaged on construction sites,” he said.
Another point of concern relates to the concept behind the National Building Code, which will include all types of regulations.
“This is a disorganised conceptual approach, which we attempted several times to explain to Government through flowcharts,” he said.
“We reiterate our request to Government and the Opposition for a serious and mature discussion on the amendments that are required to ensure the attainment of the primary objective of placing the safety and quality of life of people before any other interest,” he concluded.
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