Ombudsman’s Office, Commission Against Corruption investigate planning application in Rabat

Environment and Planning Commissioner concludes an own initiative investigation focusing on the application of policies and procedures during the processing of an application by MEPA

Last June, the Office of the Ombudsman received a complaint alleging incorrect processing and determination of a development application on a site in Rabat.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman referred the case to Perit David Pace, Commissioner for Environment and Planning for investigation.

It is understood that the case involves parliamentary secretary Ian Borg.

Following a review of the complaint, it transpired that complainant did not have the requisite personal interest for his complaint to be investigated. Article 17 (2) of the Ombudsman Act provides that:

“Without limiting the generality of the powers conferred on the Ombudsman by this Act, the Ombudsman may in his discretion decide not to investigate, or, as the case may require, not to investigate further a complaint if in his opinion….

(c) the complainant has not a sufficient personal interest in the subject-matter of the complaint.

However, the issues raised in the complaint were considered by the Ombudsman and the Commissioner for Environment and Planning to be of general public interest, and already in the public domain. 

The Commissioner was of the opinion that the complaint raised issues on the interpretation and application of planning regulations that merited an own initiative investigation.

Meanwhile the Office of the Ombudsman was made aware that the Commission against Corruption was also investigating the same complaint.

Following discussions between the Office of the Ombudsman and the Commission against Corruption it transpired that the latter lacked the necessary resources to investigate the technical issues relating to building regulations. 

It was therefore agreed that the Commissioner for Environment and Planning could proceed with his own initiative investigation focusing solely on technical aspects of the issues raised, namely the application of policies and procedures during the processing and determination of an application. 

It was also agreed that once the investigation is concluded, the report of the Commissioner for Environment and Planning would be made available to the Commission Against Corruption for its information and guidance. The Ombudsman considers this development as an exercise in collaboration between two institutional authorities.

 The investigation by the Commissioner has been concluded and the technical report has now been sent to the Commission according to the agreement.

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