Building industry council CEO pockets tens of thousands of euros in extra cash via direct orders issued by new regulator

Former Labour minister Charles Buhagiar hired to draft new industry rules in an exercise that should be part of his day-job responsibilities

 

Former Labour minister Charles Buhagiar, appointed CEO of the Building Industry Consultative Council (BICC) in 2013 after he lost his parliamentary seat, has been contracted by the new industry regulator to draft new rules for that same industry.

In May this year, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) awarded Buhagiar two direct orders, worth €20,000, to draft new demolition and construction methodology rules to be included in the building code.

The move has been slammed by construction industry insiders as another major blunder in direct conflict with standard ethical rules.

Ex-Labour candidate Martin Debono,  Buhagiar’s former assistant at the BICC, was separately given three direct orders, worth €30,000 to do the same job as that assigned to the BICC chief.

BICC CEO Buhagiar, the architect responsible for the building of the Labour Party headquarters in Hamrun in the mid-90s, is known to have been granted hundreds of thousands of euros worth of direct orders over the past few years through various government Ministries and agencies.

In his role at the BICC the architect, now in his 60s, is expected to act as a catalyst for consultation among the construction industry players.

His new contracts mean that, on top of his generous salary from the BICC, he is now being paid twice over to draft regulations that would normally emerge as part of the consultation process he leads at the government-funded organisation.

Dubbed a ‘schemer’ by several of his architect colleagues, Buhagiar found himself in hot water at the BICC in 2018, after he was outed for having abused public funds bypassing his official car to his wife for her personal use, and using taxpayers’ funds to lease out another BMW car as his official BICC car.

Charles Buhagiar with his wife, who used his official BICC car while Buhagiar himself leased a separate car at the expense of the state-funded organisation

An internal audit later found that Buhagiar’s official car abuse had been going on for five years, while other misdoings were flagged, including around the procurement of fuel and the mishandling of the government organisation’s accounts and procurement practices.

Although the minister responsible for the BICC, Ian Borg, promised action and Buhagiar was told by other members of the board to step down, the former Labour minister has resisted calls for his resignations and remains in office.

Both minister Borg and then-prime minister Joseph Muscat failed to sack the Buhagiar, while current prime minister Robert Abela has also allowed the disgraced architect to keep his position.

The BCA, formed earlier this year to regulate the construction industry, has already used 25 separate direct orders to purchase services and goods, rather than following standard procedure for its procurement requirements.

According to information published in the Government Gazette, during the first six months of its operations, it only issued one public call for tenders.

The BCA is chaired by Maria Schembri Grima– a young architect whose main client is Joseph Portelli, a construction tycoon accused of myriad illegalities.

Appointed by Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia, the BCA chair is currently also representing one of Portelli’s companies being scrutinised by the Public Contracts Review Board. The company, Prax Ltd, is accused of operating an illegal concrete batching plant in Gozo.

Despite numerous media reports over several years, the illegal batching plant has not been shut down by the PA, and indeed, the government is known to have procured concrete processed illegally at Portelli’s plant for use in public projects.

                           
                               
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carlo
carlo
1 month ago

dan ma tatx hu gahan mid-dehra, pero’ uza lill-ighna biex iqawdi flus misruqin min ghan il-haddiem. wiehed iehor mill-gwappi tal-muvument KORROTT. taf tisthi chalie.

James
James
1 month ago

Another day… another scandal involving “ friends” of the most corrupt Government within the E.U as voted by Moneyval, 635 MEPs, FATF and the DCG Inquiry Board.

That’s some medal haul in an Olympic year and you can bet there are plenty more to be put around the necks of the proud recipients, because they certainly don’t seem able or willing to decline the publicity it generates.

Lawrenc
Lawrenc
1 month ago
Reply to  James

Gieh Ir-Repubblika jonqos!

Ġwanni Fenek
Ġwanni Fenek
1 month ago

Is-soltu storja meta hemm il-“Partit tal-Ħaddiem” fil-gvern.

David
David
1 month ago

Don’t these people have any morals?

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
1 month ago

Dawn x’nies huma. Jibqgħu jerdigħu sa kemm immutu.

Paul Pullicino
Paul Pullicino
1 month ago

Just in one week, you have exposed three cases of “official” embezzlement of taxpayers’ funds by persons who are part of the Lejber machine, ex-minister Buhagiar, ex-One Gouder and Junior Lawyer DeGiovanni. Where’s the sports page?

Leonard Schembri
Leonard Schembri
1 month ago

With people like this and the continuous abuse by parliamentarians, we’ll be off the FATF greylisting in no time at all. How is it possible that PM Abela tolerates this orchestration that is going on? Simply put: some people never learn.

gadflyg
gadflyg
1 month ago

I always said that since MLP came into government, its members became like pigs at the trough. Now that has changed: they are also eating the trough itself!

Drn
Drn
1 month ago

Ezempju car ta bniedem iehor minn tal-klikka li ma jisthix min Alla li halqu. Filwaqt IL GAHAN jibqghu jghidu “prosit”! Ma tridx titghallem gahan, minflok tifthu raskom tkomplu defsu raskom gor-ramel ghax ommkom u missierkom hekk ghallmukom, li l-partit jigi qabel kollox anke qabel uliedkom u pajjizkom. Mux ta b’xejn gie f’dan l-istat tal-biki dan il-pajjiz, iktar mu se jghaddi zmien iktar l-affarijiet se jiggravaw u mhux jitjiebu taht dal Gvern KORROTT. Serhu raskom.

Last edited 1 month ago by Drn
Mark
Mark
1 month ago

Sewwa qaltilhom Rosianne, “Ara vera mejtin bil-ġuħ” dawn in-nies.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mark

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