Updated 6.45pm with PN reaction below.

New bureaucratic requirements set out by the Building and Construction Authority have been met with anger by architects, with the chamber of architects instructing its members to boycott the measures.

A directive published by the Chamber of Architects this week tells members that the BCA introduced two new forms without consulting the chamber, in breach of the government’s previous promise to do so.

The forms oblige architects and contractors to notify the BCA which third-party properties will be affected by development or excavation work and to declare the insurance cover for the works being carried out.

But in the written directive, Kamra tal-Periti president Andre Pizzuto tells members that “these two forms were not discussed and agreed upon by the Kamra tal-Periti”, describing the lack of consultation as “a major sticking point” in previous negotiations between the chamber and authorities.

The directive argues that the imposition of new forms goes beyond BCA’s legal remit.

“As a result of the BCA’s failure to consult with the Kamra tal-Periti on the two aforementioned forms, the council is hereby directing all members of the profession not to file them,” the directive says.

‘Inept knee-jerk reaction’ to Sofia inquiry report

Speaking to Times of Malta, Pizzuto described the forms as “an inept knee-jerk reaction to the (Sofia) public inquiry”.

“Instead of taking responsibility for setting standards across the industry, their instinct was to add more useless forms," he said.

The forms, Pizzuto argued, do not actually change anything or make practices any safer.

Instead of introducing more bureaucracy, Pizzuto argued, authorities “should mandate that all contractors are covered by insurance”, making it illegal for contractors to operate without an insurance policy.

In practice, Pizzuto said, instead of taking out insurance policies for individual jobs, contractors should be made to take out a single insurance policy covering all their work before being granted a licence to operate.

Meanwhile, condition reports for neighbouring properties impacted by development or excavation are already obligatory, Pizzuto said, making the introduction of a new form on the matter baffling.

“The question that should be asked is, will these forms save lives? Or will increased standards?”, Pizzuto asked, adding that “the increase in standards need to also be directed to the regulators, not just the industry players”.

Pizzuto’s comments were echoed by former KtP president Christopher Mintoff on Facebook.

“Increasing bureaucracy only distracts from actual work and distracts from site safety and built quality,” Mintoff said, arguing that releasing forms “does not simplify anything or make the industry safer”.

Measures will ‘streamline’ processes and ‘enhance protection’: BCA

In a statement published on Tuesday morning, BCA argued that the measures will “enhance the protection of third parties affected by construction projects and streamline the insurance process”.

In a dig aimed at KTP, BCA described the chamber’s directive as “unexpected”, given that its representatives were unable to attend “an important meeting aimed at enhancing dialogue and discussing the recommendations of the Sofia inquiry” on the same day.

In reaction, former KtP president Simone Vella Lenicker said that since the chamber “operates on a voluntary basis” it is inevitable that there will be times when its representatives will be unavailable. “This gives no one the right to run roughshod over it,” she said.

Meanwhile, Pizzuto said that BCA had been informed that he would be abroad on the day of the meeting but decided to go ahead anyway.

PN: Government breaching promise to consult

In a reaction, the shadow minister for planning, Stanley Zammit, recalled that the government had promised to implement the public inquiry's recommendations after consulting interested parties, and yet, it had acted alone in forging ahead with the introduction of new forms and costs.

Furthermore, instead of going to the root of the problems highlighted in the inquiry report, the government was superficial, opting for new bureaucracy.

The PN had always insisted that the regulatory framework needed to be well-planned, it should be holistic, raise standards, improve governance and give peace of mind to all those involved in the sector. 

The PN insisted that rather than being stubborn, the government should consult all interested parties and then produce a well-thought-out plan that was clear, transparent, and the fruit of agreement.  

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