Construction industry regulator to host expensive Christmas bash as nation still reeling from death of JeanPaul Sofia

Building and Construction Agency CEO defies public service chief's directive not to use public funds for Christmas parties


Days after Malta’s latest construction fatality, which claimed the life of JeanPaul Sofia, 20, the government agency entrusted with regulating the construction industry has decided to throw a massive party to celebrate Christmas and its ‘achievements’ for the year.

The party, to be held next Friday at the 5-star Marriot Hotel in St Julian’s, owned by construction magnate Charles Polidano, known as Iċ-Ċaqnu, will be paid through taxpayer funds, in a clear breach of a directive issued by the new Head of the public service, Tony Sultana, last month.

Through an invitation sent to all the Building and Construction Agency (BCA) employees and other collaborating entities, including Minister Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi’s staff, BCA CEO Jesmond Muscat asked his invitees to join him at the Marriott to “celebrate” and “have the opportunity to socialise outside office hours”.

The Shift is informed that Muscat’s ‘initiative’ will cost €15,000 for the three-hour bash.

Muscat did not reply to questions when asked by The Shift whether he had considered that such a party at such a time, in the wake of yet another fatality in a sector for which the same agency is responsible, would be inappropriate and insensitive.

The CEO, appointed to lead the BCA last June through a political decision by Minister Zrinzo Azzopardi, also refused to explain who would pay for this Christmas bash, since a directive issued by the head of the public service prohibits the use of public funds.

On 24 November, in a memo issued to all heads of government departments and government agencies, Principal Permanent Secretary Tony Sultana issued a directive stating that “no government funds are to be used for Christmas parties”.

The notice issued by the Office of the Prime Minister.

Despite this order, Jesmond Muscat insists on celebrating Christmas and his ‘achievements’, despite a list of casualties due to a lack of enforcement.

It is unclear whether the Minister responsible for the BCA, Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, has given the green light for the party to be held.

Several BCA employees who received the invitation told The Shift they felt “disgusted”, saying the move showed a lack of respect for the victims of the recent tragedy in Kordin.

Together with the Planning Authority and the OHSA, the BCA regulates the building industry, including monitoring and enforcing illegal projects and practices.

The party invitation sent by BCA CEO Jesmond Muscat.

The Shift has already revealed that the architect behind the recent Kordin building collapse, which led to the hospitalisation of another five workers apart from claiming the life of the young Sofia, had not filed a commencement notice and did not have the clearance from the BCA, making the project illegal.

Yet the BCA did not intervene to stop the illegalities on government land through an Indis Malta concession to Matthew Schembri, accused of hiring foreign hitmen to attack his ex-father-in-law.

Set up some two years ago as a knee-jerk reaction to another construction fatality – the death of Miriam Pace – the BCA never took off and got bogged down in bureaucracy without the necessary resources from the government.

To complicate matters, Minster Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi fired the then-CEO Karl Azzopardi after the general elections in March to replace him with his man –  Jesmond Muscat, a former Deputy Chief Officer at Transport Malta.

Azzopardi is asking the Minister to pay him €200,000 for “constructive dismissal”.

Zrinzo Azzopardi also re-appointed Maria Schembri Grima as the regulator’s chairperson, the architect of Gozo construction magnate Joseph Portelli.


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Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
1 month ago

Min mejjet taht xi blata – u min mejjet igawdi xalata!

Out of Curiosity
Out of Curiosity
1 month ago

What a disgrace of an Agency!!! I believe that the CEO has a lot to answer for his insensitive attitude after being accomplice of another fatality, but also for abusing and misusing public funds which seems to be going against instructions given by OPM but also beyond all possible reasons. Prime Minister please take note and do not let some parasites to continue to insult the intelligence of genuine labourites (who are so many) if you do really care about them, but also the benevolence of the Maltese, because we all deserve better.

Nigel Baker
Nigel Baker
1 month ago

You are asking the Prime Minister to ‘take note’ as if he a paragon of virtue. He is the last person that would take action over what he would no doubt consider a matter of minor importance.

Out of Curiosity
Out of Curiosity
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Baker

Perhaps I am naive, but hope is the last thing to die.

Mariatheresa Micallef
Mariatheresa Micallef
1 month ago

Prime Minister please take note? He will probably be the guest of honour!
He will take note however of the date and time of this Christmas bash.

1 month ago

peress li dan mhux ha jkun ‘festin’ imma festun, allura n notice tal OPM ma tghoddx

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