Updated 11.20pm, adds Engineering Profession Board's reaction
Engineers are up in arms over proposed changes to the law regulating the profession and insist these put the public's health and safety at risk.
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Chamber of Engineers president Daniel Micallef said the proposed amendments could "effectively allow abuse from industry who may bypass professional inputs to cheaper alternatives with the ultimate victim being the general public".
"The Chamber will continue to actively discuss and negotiate this Act to ensure that any changes are reasonable and acceptable without compromising quality and safety," Dr Micallef said.
Last week, Times of Malta revealed how one of the proposed changes deletes the legal definition of the term “engineer” and replaces it with “engineering services”. Sources in the profession have said engineers fear the move is a way to broaden the definition to appease the construction industry.
“While the Chamber understands the necessity to amend the Act from time to time, it does not agree to broadening of the context of such Act which will lead to potential degradation of health and safety as well as the quality of the whole spectrum of industry," Dr Micallef went on.
Asked when the engineers had found out about the change, Dr Micallef said the changes were first passed on to the Chamber in June. At the time, the Chamber had reviewed the draft and flagged a number of issues it disagreed with.
The latest draft of the Act was handed to the Chamber last week.
On engineers' concerns the changes were motivated by efforts to appease the construction industry, Dr Micallef said while aware of this sentiment, the Chamber was informed that the proposed changes were a result of instructions from the EU.
The deadline to implement such changes was December, he said. Dr Micallef insisted this was not enough time for the Chamber to adequately discuss and tackle the issue.
"We expect the ministry to cooperate and request an extension to this deadline," the Chamber head said.
Engineers forming part of the Malta Association of Professional Engineers had expressed fears the issue would unfold in a similar manner to when changes to the Education Act were revealed last year. Then, teachers claimed amendments had been presented to Parliament without consultation and put teachers and the teaching profession under siege.
Engineering Profession Board reacts
In a statement later on Tuesday, the Engineering Profession Board said it noted the discussion on the proposed changes.
"The board wants to assure engineers and the public that the ultimate aim of this legislative process is to ensure the profession is given more recognition, not just under the Act but also under other laws that the profession is linked to," it said.
It said it will continue with its consultation process and will hold talks with the chamber to ensure that, as has been the case in the past, the profession is safeguarded.
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