Taxpayers might be forced into paying out some €200,000 in compensation if Karl Azzopardi – who until a few months ago was the politically-appointed CEO of the Building and Construction Agency (BCA) – manages to win a case he has instituted against the construction regulator following his ‘forced’ dismissal.
The case before the Industrial Tribunal revolves around a political decision taken by Planning Minister Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi to terminate Karl Azzopardi’s contract.
The Shift is informed that Azzopardi and the minister had fallen out over their different approaches to regulating the ever-influential building industry.
Sources said that while the former BCA CEO wanted to introduce various punitive measures to try to rein the industry in, particularly when it came to its many ‘cowboys’, the minister was of a more accommodating mindset with the industry’s big players.
While Azzopardi, who until his resignation was within the inner circles of the Labour administration, was given a €100,000 contract to manage the BCA in April 2021, he had to leave the post a year later following differences with Zrinzo Azzopardi.
In his declaration to the tribunal, Azzopardi states that while he had accepted the minster’s wishes to step down, he had done so under the agreement that his definite employment contract, which had another two more years to go, would be paid in full, even though he had worked at the BCA for only a year.
According to Azzopardi, neither the BCA nor the minister kept their word, and he has not received his €200,000 in compensation. Azzopardi also slammed the government over how it was treating the construction regulator, stating that it had been left without funds and resources.
On the other hand, the minister is claiming Azzopardi – who is considered to be close to former minister Chris Cardona – had resigned voluntarily and, as such, had no right to any compensation.
Government sources said that despite Azzopardi’s close relations with various members of the Labour government, the construction lobby has once again had its way.
“It is a known fact that Zrinzo Azzopardi is very close to the industry – particularly a large and established contractor from the south of Malta – while the regulator’s chairperson, Maria Schembri Grima, is the architect of Gozitan construction magnate Joseph Portelli,” sources said.
The Shift has reported that most of Schembri Grima’s private work is directly linked to Portelli, who is known for his disregard for planning rules. The BCA chair is even defending Portelli on his continuous use of an illegal concrete batching plant in Gozo that the authorities continue to tolerate.
Before joining the BCA, Chris Cardona had appointed Azzopardi as Malta Industrial Parks CEO, where he was responsible for various controversial contracts that saw government industrial facilities being given to ‘friends’ of the administration.
Sources close to this useless Authority confirmed that it is not true that Mr Karl Azzopardi resigned on his own free will, but was forced out by Zrinzo Azzopardi to please the construction magnets and kamra tal-periti who were opposing to new realities and EU standards which would have shaken the illicit practices of these so called ‘cowboys’.
Ultimately, you can imagine that Karl Azzopardi is now replaced by a trumbun of a CEO who is totally unfit to hold such a technical position, but who is surely eager to toe the Minister’s line of thought (more illicit practices) to the detriment of Maltese citizens, as third parties.
PM please take note of this incompetent Minister since you are supposed to act in the best interest of our nation, by not letting those who are in power to act maliciously.
And if Karl Azzopardi resigned on a voluntary basis as Zrinzo Azzopardi is stating, did the Authority request Karl Azzopardi to pay half the salary of the remaining period of his contract? And if this is not the case it only means that the Minister is lying to his teeth, otherwise, he did a disservice to our country by not consolidating a good financial return to the national coffers.
Karl Azzopardi wanted to introduce some discipline to the method statements being submitted by periti….so the kamra Tal- periti wanted his removal so that they can continue to be unaccountable. Of course, the spineless Minister complied and forced his resignation.