The Malta Independent 18 August 2019, Sunday

TMID Editorial: Construction industry - Unexplained delay

Friday, 10 May 2019, 09:55 Last update: about 4 months ago

Some things happen in reverse, and the way procrastination takes over in determined circumstances leads one to suspect that this is done deliberately.

For example, the petrol station policy draft was issued after too many permits were granted for new complexes to be built. It may be that pending applications will also be given the go-ahead before the policy is put in place. So excuse us for being suspicious that the delay in the publication and implementation of the policy is not just a coincidence.


The same is happening with the recommendations of the Venice Commission with regard to the rule of law. Before what has been proposed is executed by the government, judges and magistrates continue to be appointed, just to give one example.

There’s another issue which is following the same pattern, and this is the construction industry. At a time when construction is booming, Malta is still without an authority which was promised by the government, and which is supposed to take under its wing all matters pertaining to the industry.

It was with much pomp and euphoria that the government, last September, presented a white paper for the setting up of such an authority, which is intended to incorporate the functions of four existing entities responsible for construction under one roof. The idea is to have just one regulator to bring together the Building Industry Consultative Council, the Building Regulation Office, the Building Regulation Board and the Masons Board.

As things stand now, there are too many overlaps and loopholes in the regulatory framework, meaning that developers and constructors, once they pass the Planning Authority hurdle, have a free ride.

The existing structures have little or no resources by which they could tackle abuse in the industry. Too often complaints about pollution, noise, over-development and other environmental issues go unanswered.

We fail to understand why the government is taking so long in setting up the authority. True, the man behind the white paper, Carlo Mifsud, has since moved to the private sector, but in spite of losing a man of his capabilities, the government should have still been able to finalise its plan.

The parliamentary secretary responsible, Chris Agius, was unable to give a deadline as to when the authority will be set up, saying that the laws that need to be changed are too complex to be able to predict a date.

Our reading of the situation is that the government does not want to rock the boat now, at a time when the industry is possibly going through its best time. The government must be thinking that introducing new concepts and regulations might affect the momentum.

But it is precisely because the industry is at a peak that such an authority is desperately needed, and needed quickly. It is now that developers and contractors needs some entity to oversee what they are doing, and try to keep them in check. It is at this point in time that the industry should be constantly monitored so as not to abuse.

This is why, as explained above, such procrastination in setting up the authority cannot be taken lightly.

The government needs to explain why it is taking so long, and give credible answers to the questions being posed. Otherwise we will continue to believe that the delay is intentional.


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