The Malta Independent 20 May 2024, Monday
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Licensing of contractors will aim to ‘improve standards’ – Planning Minister

Monday, 20 February 2023, 07:30 Last update: about 2 years ago

Public Works and Planning Minister Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi said that the licensing of contractors in the construction industry is aimed to ‘improve standards’.

He was reacting to a report in The Malta Independent on Sunday (Stakeholders say yes to licensing of contractors, but periti question government’s willingness, TMIS, 5 February), in which construction industry stakeholders expressed their support on a legislation to license building contractors, but wondered when this will ever come to be.

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Similar promises had been made in 2019 and 2021 but did not materialise. In his comments to this media house, Zrinzo Azzopardi would not be drawn into saying when this legislation will come to be. Last November, he had said that this will happen “soon”.

In his comments this week, Zrinzo Azzopardi said that “the government is committed to introduce a system by which contractors are issued with a licence. There are various options on a way forward and in recent months discussions have been ongoing with a number of associations that represent various interests in the construction sector.

“The necessity of introducing such a licence is another step to improve standards in the construction sector,” he said.

“The establishment of the Building and Construction Authority was a step in the right direction. This authority is exclusively focused on the processes that come after the planning process. Various regulations have been introduced and the setup of the Authority is being bolstered in order to have better enforcement of regulations. The process wherein method statements are cleared by the authority is crucial and contractors are legally bound to follow the methods stated therein.”

The licensing of contractors is intended to specify the certification of players within this field, the minister added. In order to improve standards, the workforce at various levels requires more training and awareness of standards and rules to be followed.

This change, coupled with other initiatives that have been implemented so far such as the need for insurance policies covering the interests of third parties, bank guarantees as well as other requirements that need to be adhered to prior to and during the commencement of works in a project, will improve this sector, the minister said.

The construction sector was in the news for the wrong reasons again this past week after footage emerged of dangerous demolition works that took place in Psaila Street, Birkirkara.

The developer of the project, Excel Limited, which is owned by Gozitan developer Joseph Portelli, and the contractor, Polidano Brothers, were both fined by the BCA.

Excel Ltd was fined €3,150 and Polidano €5,000 (the contractor) over irregularities connected to the demolition of the Go Exchange building.

A €2,000 fine was also imposed on site technical officer David Muscat but no fine was administered to project architect Maria Schembri Grima, who resigned on Tuesday from her post as BCA Chairman in the wake of the media’s reports on the Psaila Street incident..

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