The government on Tuesday ignored an appeal from the Opposition to have the appointment of the new chairperson of the Building and Construction Authority open to parliamentary scrutiny.
It instead steamrolled ahead with its own choice of person for the BCA hot seat, a position currently under the national spotlight following the previous chairperson’s resignation under a dark cloud.
The Opposition on Tuesday morning called for the nominee to be vetted by the Parliamentary Committee on Public Appointments, as is done with other sensitive positions, by having the position of BCA chairperson added to the list of posts scrutinised by the Committee as per the Public Administration Act.
Ignoring the call, the government yesterday went ahead and appointed retired draughtsman Saviour Camilleri to the position. Camilleri may be perfectly suited to the role but the Opposition is seeking to have the appointment scrutinised by the Public Appointments Committee to ensure the BCA is headed by “a serious and competent person who has no conflict of interest”.
The call comes after the mess former chairperson Maria Schembri Grima left behind when she resigned over a glaring conflict of interest of being both the architect of construction magnate Joseph Portelli – and the architect responsible for the demolition debacle during the Go Exchange building demolition in Birkirkara – and the chairperson of the authority that is meant to be overseeing her work s an architect.
“The Nationalist Party expects the new Chairperson to be nominated because of their knowledge, skills and competence and not because of who they know and the links they have with the government of the day,” the Opposition MPs Darren Carabott and Stanley Zammit said.
The Kamra tal-Periti (Chamber of Architects) is currently investigating Schembri Grima to establish whether the now infamous incident on Psaila Street, Birkirkara – where the former GO Exchange is being demolished by contractor Polidano Bros for a project involving construction magnate Joseph Portelli – “gave rise to potential breaches by any of the architects involved in the project, including the architect in charge of the project and the site technical officer.”
The architect in charge was Schembri Grima, who resigned from her position as BCA chairperson earlier this week in the wake of the incident that saw large slabs, bricks and rubble falling from the site onto the surrounding street because of haphazard and unmonitored demolition work.
The Building and Construction Authority on Wednesday fined contractors Polidano Bros (headed by Charles Polidano, ic-Caqnu) €5,000 while site manager Mark Agius was fined €3,150. Another €2,000 fine was meted out to site technical officer David Muscat, who was tasked with observing sensitive works that might affect third parties.
The BCA that Schembri Grima heads had issued her with clearance, as Joseph Portelli’s architect, to begin demolition work on the large building on 1 February.
The Shift has in the past pointed out how Schembri Grima’s appointment at the BCA’s helm had been grossly unethical and marred with conflicts of interest.
The Shift had also revealed how the architect was defending Portelli and his associates over their completely illegal concrete batching plant in Kercem, Gozo, which was built on public land in broad daylight and over which the government has not taken any action in the past four years.
Even though Prime Minister Robert Abela had been warned several times about the conflict of interest, with NGOs and the chamber itself having informally pressured him to not re-nominate Schembri Grima to the post after the last general election.
GVERN LI JISMA, KIEN QAL XI HADD!
L-ikbar widnejn torox li hawn Malta, huma tal-Gvern Laburista.
Ahna nafu x’qedd naghmlu, TINDAHALX!
The first thing this guy will do is to refurbish his office by subcontracting the job to himself.
Same stuff Muscat did when he hired his car to himself.
Hold on! The Saviour is on his way to finally regulate what the PM does not want to regulate. The name of the new Chairpwrson gives us hope, but for the rest of him, we can only pray. But I am not surprised, becsuse who on earth wants to be part of this filthy amd useless authority, unless one wants to benefit largely from this position, as it used to happen with Maria ta Tommy.