[WATCH] Joseph Muscat admits lack of enforcement: Construction sector grew faster than regulators

The Prime Minister said the government had taken responsibility for the lack of enforcement across the sector by temporarily suspending excavation works, a decision he said would cost millions

Muscat insisted that he did not want a situation where regulatory institutions simply acted as “filing cabinets” for documentation
Muscat insisted that he did not want a situation where regulatory institutions simply acted as “filing cabinets” for documentation
Authorities haven't kept up with pace of construction sector growth, Muscat insists

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat this morning acknowledged that citizens often had nobody to turn to when dealing with construction-related issues, insisting that the problem lay in the fact that the industry has grown at a faster pace than the entities regulating it.

The Prime Minister was answering journalists on Monday when he was asked about the fact that citizens couldn’t rely on authorities to safeguard their interests when dealing with construction works going on in their vicinity, and whether this was sending a message to some contractors that they could do as they pleased without any consequences.

“I think it’s a situation where the industry grew at a much faster rate than the institutional capacity of the institution governing it, that is the truth,” Muscat said. “In this regard, we need to ensure that this gap is reduced as much as possible.”

He insisted that he did not want a situation where regulatory institutions simply acted as “filing cabinets” for documentation. “We must have a more proactive approach, so yes you are right on that point,” the Prime Minister said.

Asked whether he felt that responsibility for the present situation needed to be shouldered, Muscat pointed to the government’s decision to suspend all demolition and excavation works.

“We have shouldered responsibility because we have stopped an entire industry,” Muscat said.

“Had we left things to carry on as though nothing ever happened, I might have agreed with you but that fact that we brought an industry to a halt, with a decision that has cost the government and private individuals millions, shows that we have taken responsibility and we have taken a decision when it needed to be taken.”

Regarding the most recent incident, which saw one of the walls of a family’s home collapse, forcing them to have to sleep outside in a car in order to watch over their belongings, the Prime Minister was asked whether there should be an established system for the government to intervene in such cases.

He insisted that the government could only ever act as a fallback option, insisting that there were clear obligations and responsibilities for those whose actions lead to such incidents.  

Turning to the consultation on amendments to construction industry regulation which starts today, Muscat said the government could no longer tolerate a situation where people in the private sector cause accidents because of negligence, and then expect the government to step in and rectify the situation.

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