Construction reform will strike balance between rights of residents and needs of the industry – PM

Prime Minister Robert Abela says standards in construction industry must be raised, with government prioritising the needs of residents

Prime Minister Robert Abela
Prime Minister Robert Abela

Government’s construction reform will look to strike a balance between the needs of developers and the rights of people to leave peacefully in their homes, Prime Minister Robert Abela has said.

The PM was addressing a political event in Tarxien square.

Abela recalled how last week he tabled a report on the industry commissioned in the wake of Miriam Pace’s death.

The report forms part of the groundwork for the Building and Construction Authority Bill currently being discussed in parliament.

The Bill provides for the establishment of a Building and Construction Authority, which would regulate all matters relating to the building and construction industry, as well as a register of service providers which would be maintained by the same authority.

Abela said the reform will not weaken the industry but rather increases its sustainability.

“We have to accept that we need to raise standards, and walk away from old practices,” he said.

The Labour leader said that while developers must be understood and incentivised, government’s priority must be that of protecting the safety of people in their households.  

Such a priority, he said is shown in the proposals being forwarded, such as the right to employ an architect if a development is being carried out on neighbouring plots. The expenses would be forked out by the developers themselves.

He also said the new authority will be tasked with handling people’s complaints.

Such proposals have received positive feedback from the industry as well as the Malta Developers Association.

Abela also said the government is showing good faith in reaching out to the opposition in order for it to also have it’s say in the reform.

COVID pandemic

On the COVID-19 pandemic, the PM said government’s traits in taking the decisions which need to be taken have resulted in a different situation than in other countries.

“While others are entering and emerging from lockdowns, we have never had to impose one. If a lockdown had been announced, we would be in a very different situation, and our recovery would have been much harder,” he said.

He said government will continue to strive towards have a more efficient vaccine roll-out, announcing that by the end of February all elderly home patients will be fully vaccinated.

Oncology patients will start to receive their first dose next week.

The PM hit out at the Opposition for “confronting” the Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci.

“What a poor opposition you have to be to criticise the public health superintendent in a pandemic,” he said.

He said the opposition’s criticism against Gauci hailed from its intention to cause chaos by having schools closed down, in turn piling more pressure on the country’s workforce.

He also hit out against former opposition leader Simon Busutill and his partner Kristina Chetcuti, after the latter criticised Gauci in a Times of Malta opinion last week. Chetcuti had called on Gauci to lead by example and get vaccinated herself.

News of Gauci’s vaccination was met by a Facebook post by the former PN leader, who captioned a screenshot of the opinion with “the power of the pen”.

“I understand that Busutill considers this as a win, because he didn’t win a lot. Now they believe that they have put her in her place. This is arrogance,” Abela said.

PN reshuffle

Reacting to the opposition reshuffle last week, Abela said news of the confrontations met by Bernard Grech highlighted a “weak opposition leader”.

“His MPs carried out a reshuffle of his reshuffle. You have an opposition that doesn’t decide, because its shackled by people from within the party,” Abela said.