Contractors are by and large responsible people but their image is being tarnished by a handful of unruly ones, Environment and Planning Minister Aaron Farrugia has argued.
“When I had said that I want to change the narrative of the construction industry, I was certain of what I was saying and in fact I’m even more convinced now,” Farrugia said in Parliament at the end of a debate to set up a new Construction Authority.
“Some people had misunderstood me or misquoted me, but when I said I’m not comfortable with the current narrative because of the negative connotations around it, I didn’t mean that I’d carry out a magic trick or an expensive and intelligent PR campaign, but that I’d carry out reforms without leaving victims in my wake for my own political gain.”
“Reforms must take place hand in hand with construction stakeholders and not behind their back; we don’t want to shock the industry.”
Farrugia praised the Malta Developers’ Association for launching a Safer Neighbourhood Scheme, which obliges MDA members to pay their neighbours’ architect fees if they hire one to scrutinise the project.
This scheme will now become mandatory for all developers and overseen by the new Construction Authority.
“They introduced this initiative in the middle of a pandemic, and out of respect to them, I won’t allow a handful of contractors to cast a dark shadow on the many responsible ones through their dangerous practices. The construction industry is, and will remain, an important economic pillar.”
“But nether will I align with a small group of people who have a clear agenda in using all possible means to kill the industry and the economy, and who view all contractors as criminals.”
The new Construction Authority will encompass the Building and Construction Agency, the Building Regulations Office, the Building Regulations Board and the Masons Board, streamlining their processes into one body.
It will become the fulcrum of future construction industry reforms and will be tasked with discussing reforms proposed in a damning report, commissioned following the death of Miriam Pace, which warned excavation works are “playing Russian roulette” with people’s lives.
The Authority will also launch a national building code, assess the expertise of current operators, and provide a one-stop-shop for citizens seeking construction-related information.
“We promise to modernise, safeguard and strengthen the construction industry and I’m proud we’ve piloted this law,” Farrugia concluded.
What do you make of Farrugia’s speech?