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PR 07/20 | Earth Day is every day, and anywhere you are

Verżjoni bil-Malti

Today, the entire planet is marking Earth Day 2020, which this year is focussed on climate action.

Climate change is currently the biggest challenge being faced by humanity, as it also struggles with the severe impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Any challenge, however, is also an opportunity for positive change in ensuring a more sustainable future.

At the end of 2020, Malta, along with all other signatory nations, is expected to increase its national commitments to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. Just two days ago, Minister Aaron Farrugia announced that Malta had joined 16 other EU countries in backing a call to put the “European Green Deal” at the heart of a post-coronavirus recovery. The respective ministers are urging Europe to remember the challenges of climate change when putting forward long-term strategies for a resilient recovery from the current crisis, and stated that while all efforts should be focussed on fighting the pandemic, we must “begin to prepare ourselves to rebuild our economy and to introduce the necessary recovery plans to bring renewed, sustainable progress and prosperity back to Europe and its citizens. While doing so, we must not lose sight of the persisting climate and ecological crisis. Building momentum to fight this battle has to stay high on the political agenda.

This is indeed a very welcome step. Malta has, for many years, failed to meet its obligations on various matters ranging from waste management to emissions, and from over extraction of resources to uncontrolled energy use. We simply cannot afford to carry on with our past attitude to these matters – the Kamra tal-Periti therefore fully backs Malta’s renewed commitment to ensure that things will change, and remains hopeful that this is not just an exercise in paying lip service to these ideals.

On its part, the Kamra tal-Periti is committed to collaborate with Government in achieving these goals. For many years it has been lobbying for significant changes in the building and construction industry, which is known to be one of the biggest contributors to climate change. In May 2019, it published a comprehensive proposal for an overhaul of the building and construction regulation framework, which proposal has the support of all the main players in the industry, and which is aimed at ensuring that our building stock is more safe and efficient, and that it is focussed on quality rather than on quantity. These proposals were recently presented to the Committee established by Prime Minister Robert Abela, and the Kamra looks forward to the outcome of the consultation process being undertaken by said Committee.

Last October, the Kamra tal-Periti took the important step of signing up to the Davos Declaration titled “Towards a high-quality Baukultur for Europe”, and to date remains the only Maltese organisation to have done so. The Declaration, which was endorsed by the European Ministers for Culture in January 2018, calls for quality, joint responsibility and cultural sustainability to be at the core of our policies relating to the built environment, and stated that “We urgently need a new, adaptive approach to shaping our built environment; one that is rooted in culture, actively builds social cohesion, ensures environmental sustainability, and contributes to the health and well-being of all.” They also acknowledged the importance of adding “economic value by creating higher-quality and more durable assets and favourable conditions for economic prosperity within society (by using) resourced sustainably, thus ensuring that future generations will also be able to benefit from positive social and economic development.

The Kamra tal-Periti will continue to strive to ensure that its members place sustainability at the core of their practices and professional responsibilities, to promote and improve standards with the aim of ensuring better quality buildings and open spaces, and to acknowledge the important role that we play in ensuring a better quality of life for our citizens. However we cannot do this alone. Government must become the champion for a better built environment, not only by investing in good design but also by being acutely aware of the consequences of its policy making and decision-taking in all fields.

The challenges faced by our built environment will not be easy to overcome but they can be with concerted action, shared responsibility and commitment to the development of a vision which catalyses all stakeholders to work for better quality places that bring dignity, pride and real delight to their users. Earth Day 2020 can be an important moment for our citizens to rise up, with millions of people around the world, to demand the “creativity, innovation, ambition, and bravery that we need to meet our climate crisis and seize the enormous opportunities of a zero-carbon future.

 

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PR 05/20 | Arraignments indicative of confused and overlapping responsibilities

Verżjoni bil-Malti

Last month’s incident, which claimed the life of Miriam Pace, was a stark reminder that the crisis faced by the building industry is far from over, and has not been resolved through the hastily drafted regulations that were brought into force in July 2019. While commending the swift manner in which the authorities have proceeded in this case, the Kamra tal-Periti cannot but reiterate its position, which has consistently remained strongly opposed to the afore-mentioned regulations because they do not guarantee public safety, as clearly evidenced by the Hamrun tragedy. All these regulations were designed to do is apportion blame after an accident takes place, while concurrently shifting it away from developers and contractors, who remain unregulated to this day. Instead they should have been focused on preventing such accidents from happening in the first place.

Yesterday’s arraignments are a clear demonstration of how increasingly complicated and confused the lines of responsibility have become with the coming into force of the new regulations. Indeed, the Court will now have to establish the responsibilities of four different roles, including the STO role which did not exist before. Inevitably, defence lawyers will thrive in this weak regulatory framework.

The Kamra tal-Periti is perplexed by the statement issued yesterday by the Malta Developers’ Association that the new regulations introduced last summer provided “clear parameters to determine who was responsible for such incidents”. It appears that this was the primary focus of the MDA, rather than ensuring public safety, which has always been the paramount concern of the Kamra.

Indeed, the Kamra fully agrees with the statement which Marthese Portelli, now director-general of MDA, had made at the time the regulations were published, wherein she characterised them as “rushed decision-making [which] has set nobody’s mind at ease”.

The Kamra looks forward to the implementation of its building and construction regulation framework which Government had committed to start implementing as from October 2019. This framework was meanwhile endorsed by all the relevant stakeholders and presented to the Committee of Experts appointed recently by the Prime Minister. Its implementation will ensure that the construction industry will finally modernise itself and be brought in line with practices adopted in developed countries.

The Kamra tal-Periti is fully committed to make sure this happens without further delay. Delays in introducing the appropriate legislation will only prolong the public’s exposure to health and safety risks.

 

 

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PR 04/20 | Quality of life and public safety should under pin future of construction industry

Verżjoni bil-Malti

The Kamra tal-Periti met with Prime Minister Robert Abela, Minister Aaron Farrugia, Minister Ian Borg and Parliamentary Secretary Chris Agius yesterday afternoon to discuss the two public safety crises that have engulfed our country: the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of adequate regulation in the construction industry, which recently led to the premature demise of Miriam Pace.

 

Construction industry crisis

On the construction industry crisis, Kamra tal-Periti President, Simone Vella Lenicker, acknowledged the role of some members of the profession. She also acknowledged the fact that Government had recognised the need for change, which it committed to implementing in the Letter of Commitment signed in August 2019. This outlined a number of reforms which the Kamra has been striving for, including:

  • The licensing and classification of contractors by the State to ensure they are qualified to shoulder their responsibilities, and give the public and consumers peace of mind;
  • The consolidation of laws and regulations whose remit is scattered in 22 different public entities;
  • The introduction of regulations covering the design of permanent works which would fall under the responsibility of periti and engineers, and the execution of temporary works which would fall under the responsibility of contractors, thereby providing simplicity and clarity of the roles within the industry;
  • The enactment of the long-overdue amendments to the Periti Act.

Vella Lenicker welcomed the Prime Minister’s statement in Parliament that responsibilities on site should follow the Civil Code, which underscores the symmetric responsibilities of periti and contractors. To this end, she called on Government to revise LN 136 of 2019 to eliminate the ambiguities about site responsibilities that it brought about.

Government must also look at the issues besetting the industry in a holistic and comprehensive manner, as the Kamra tal-Periti has been calling for since 2007. Among these issues was the ill-advised obsession of the Planning Authority to insist on the indiscriminate provision of underground carparking, which is leading to the dangerous practice of excavating between party walls in narrow sites, as well as causing wider problems of waste management, traffic, air pollution and a rapid deterioration of the quality of life of Malta’s citizens.

Prime Minister Abela welcomed the Kamra’s contributions and detailed recommendations and looked forward to collaborating further with the Kamra in introducing the necessary reforms in the industry.

 

COVID-19 Pandemic

Vella Lenicker outlined the profession’s concerns about the risks to public safety should a national lockdown be announced suddenly. She explained that it is not advisable to abruptly shut down all construction sites, as some may present a greater risk to public safety if they are abandoned without the necessary precautions being put in place to ensure structural stability. She also stated that there may also be instances where properties may require urgent maintenance or repairs during the lockdown period, and provisions should be made for such situations.

It was agreed that, although there is no indication as yet from the public health authorities that a lockdown is imminent, separate discussions would be held with the relevant Ministries to prepare for such an eventuality should it arise.

 

 

 

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PR 03/20 | Reforming the building industry

Verżjoni bil-Malti

Prime Minister Dr Robert Abela yesterday announced the setting up of a panel of experts tasked with reviewing the current suite of building and construction regulations, and to make its recommendations directly to him on the changes that are required to ensure that the construction industry is better regulated in the interest of public safety.

The Kamra’s proposals for A Modern Building and Construction Regulation Framework for Malta, which were published in May 2019 after two years of research, already present an in-depth analysis of the grossly inadequate building and construction regime currently in place in its first three chapters, including the absence of registration, licensing and training of contractors and labourers.

The document, which was formulated by a team of experts in the field appointed by the Kamra, constitutes a comprehensive and thorough review of the current situation, analyses the problems, and provides solutions which are also informed by research on systems which have been tried and tested in other countries. The Kamra’s proposals were unanimously approved by the profession at an Extraordinary General Meeting held in June 2019.

This document was subsequently presented to the key stakeholders, namely the Chamber of Engineers, the Chamber of Commerce, the Building Industry Consultative Council, the Building Regulation Board, the Building Regulation Office, the Building and Construction Agency, the Planning Authority, the Malta Developers’ Association, and the Malta Insurers Association. All these entities and organisations endorsed the Kamra’s proposals. There is industry-wide consensus that such proposals are both necessary and desirable.

The proposals were also presented to the European Commission and the Opposition, as well as to Government which, through a Letter of Commitment issued in August 2019, recognised the need for a comprehensive reform of the building and construction industry, and committed itself to implement the Kamra’s proposals.

The Kamra tal-Periti therefore invites the panel to review its document to ensure that no time is wasted in proceeding with the necessary reforms.

 

 

 

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PR 02/20 | Crisis is far from over

Verżjoni bil-Malti

The Kamra tal-Periti is deeply saddened by Monday’s tragedy which prematurely claimed the life of Miriam Pace, forever shattering her family’s serenity as a result of yet another serious construction incident. The Kamra tal-Periti expresses its heartfelt condolences to the victim’s family.

It is painfully clear that the crisis that befell the building and construction industry last year has not been resolved through the hastily drafted regulations that were brought into force in July 2019.

The calls which the Kamra has been making since 2007 for a comprehensive reform of the construction industry have regrettably not been heeded. It took the three collapses that occurred in quick succession in 2019 for the Kamra tal-Periti to eventually secure a written commitment from Government to implement its three main demands for reform in the interest of public safety.

The first reform consists in the setting up of the Building and Construction Authority, that will be tasked with implementing the proposed building and construction regulation framework “A Modern Building and Construction Regulation Framework for Malta published by the Kamra tal-Periti in May 2019. This framework focussed on a number of principles including:

  • The consolidation under the new Authority of the regulatory functions currently dispersed in at least 24 government departments and authorities;
  • The issuance of a comprehensive set of building and construction regulations in line with those in force in other European countries;
  • The obligatory registration, licensing and classification of contractors and skilled labourers, coupled with rigorous training and education.

The second reform is the promulgation of a revised law to regulate periti to ensure that the profession can modernise itself, that the Kamra’s role to hold warrant holders accountable is strengthened, and that mandatory professional indemnity insurance and continuous professional development are introduced, among other important measures.

The third demand consisted in the repeal of LN 136 of 2019 as part of the overhaul of the regulatory framework. The Kamra has consistently maintained that the regulations brought into force last year did not adequately address the crisis, but rather made the situation worse by adding further confusion on the roles and responsibilities on construction sites.

Despite Government’s commitment in writing to take on the necessary measures, the much-needed reforms have not as yet been implemented. Some initial progress has been registered through the setting up of the Building and Construction Agency, which remains however severely under-resourced and incapable of tackling the complexities of the building industry. There has been little progress in all other areas.

Various sectors such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and gaming have received Government’s deserved attention over recent years, yet the construction industry, which is one of the main contributors to the country’s GDP, remains the most unregulated one, claiming the lives of innocent persons on an all too regular basis.

Government is called upon to demonstrate firm resolve to urgently but diligently bring about the necessary reforms.

The Kamra remains committed to ensure that the profession acts with utmost diligence and to assist Government in implementing the overdue reforms, and to offer its support and technical resources to Government to ensure that its reform proposals, which received strong support from all industry stakeholders, are brought into force as quickly as possible in the interest of public safety.

 

 

 

CIR 15/19 | New Forms for use prior to commencement of works or utilisation of planning permit

Dear Colleagues,

Following the coming into force of Legal Notice 136 of 2019, the Building Regulation Office had published a set of Forms to administer the requirements imposed by said Legal Notice.

Several meetings and discussions ensued regarding various changes to the Forms, including the Kamra’s proposal to completely separate the planning process from the construction process by amending the Commencement Notice that is required to be submitted to the Planning Authority to contain only that information which is relevant to the planning process, and the rest of the information relating to the construction process being amalgamated within the BRO Forms.

Following the establishment of the new Building and Construction Agency in August 2019, further discussions took place, and we can finally announce that the Forms are being amended today.

 

Main changes

The main changes to the Forms are outlined below.

1. Works that do not affect third parties

Whenever works do not affect third parties, and are therefore not subject to the provisions of Legal Notice 136 of 2019, the Form titled Commencement Notice – for use when works do not affect third parties is to be submitted. This replaces the current Commencement Notice required by the Planning Authority, and has been amended to require only the details of the Developer, the Licensed Mason (where applicable) and the Site Manager appointed in terms of Legal Notice 295 of 2007 (where applicable).

The Perit in Charge is to state reasons to justify situations when either a Licensed Mason or a Site Manager (or both) is/are not required for the works in hand.

This Form is to be used ONLY where the works do not affect third parties, and therefore in the following situations:

  • Works that do not qualify under Regulation 4 of Legal Notice 136 of 2019, in which case the Form titled Declaration that Works Do Not fall Under the Scope of Legal Notice 136 of 2019 must also be submitted;
  • Works that fall under Regulation 26 of Legal Notice 136 of 2019, in which case the Form titled Declaration in Terms of Regulation 26 must also be submitted;
  • Regularisation permits.

In such cases, the relevant Forms are to be submitted at least five days prior to the commencement of works or utilisation of permit.

 

2. Works that affect third parties and fall under the provisions of Legal Notice 136 of 2019

Whenever works fall under the provisions of Legal Notice 136 of 2019 as defined in Regulation 4 thereof, the Form titled Commencement Notice / Site Management Responsibility Form is to be submitted. This is a combined Form for use by both the Planning Authority and the Building and Construction Agency, and requires the submission of details of all the persons required on the site, as per the relevant legislation.

The Perit in Charge is to state reasons to justify situations when either a Licensed Mason or a Site Manager (or both) is/are not required for the works in hand.

In such cases, the relevant Forms are to be submitted at least two weeks prior to the commencement of works or utilisation of permit.

 

3. Requests for exemptions under Regulation 25 of Legal Notice 136 of 2019

Regulation 25 empowers the Director of the Building Regulation Office to ˝issue appropriate orders according to the requirements and nature of the particular site“. Forms 25A, 25B and 25C were developed to standardise certain requests for exemptions from the requirements of the Legal Notice.

The following is to be noted:

  • Form 25A is being repealed;
  • Form 25B is to be used in all cases which fall under the definitions in Regulation 4, and where a request for exemption from the appointment of a Site Technical Officer is being made – this Form cannot be used if the works include excavation or demolition;
  • Form 25C is to be used only in the case of emergency works, including works permitted under the Dangerous Structures procedure.

Any other requests for exemptions from any provisions of Legal Notice 136 of 2019 that are not coverd by Forms 25B and 25C are to be submitted in the form of a letter, signed by the Perit in Charge, accompanied by a declaration signed by the Developer stating:

I, …., ID No …, in my capacity as developer for the works approved under PA…, hereby declare that I have requested Perit … to submit a request for exemption from the requirements of Legal Notice 136 of 2019. I further declare that I am aware of the responsibilities pertaining to the undersigned in terms of the Legal Notice 136 of 2019, and that I have acknowledged the submission and content of the said request for exemption.

 

In such cases, the relevant Forms are to be submitted at least two weeks prior to the commencement of works or utilisation of permit.

 

4. General notes

  1. All the Forms except the one described in Section (1) above (Commencement Notice – for use when works do not affect third parties) are to be submitted through the Avoidance of Damage tab on eApps. Failure to follow this requirement will mean that the system will not notify the Building and Construction Agency. The Form titled Commencement Notice – for use when works do not affect third parties is to be submitted through the Commencement Notice tab on eApps, and will only be notified to the Planning Authority.
  2. Where the works fall under the provisions of Legal Notice 136 of 2019, the Site Management Responsibility Summary Form must always be submitted.
  3. Whenever there is a change in the person assuming any of the roles detailed in the Forms, the Change of Responsibility Form is to be submitted.
  4. Whenever there is a change in any of the details of a person assuming any of the roles detailed in the Forms (eg. change in address, etc), the Site Management Responsibility Form – Update is to be submitted.
  5. It is to be noted that where the Licensed Mason is assuming the role of Mason as required by the Code of Police Laws AND the role of Contractor as defined in the Civil Code and in other relevant legislation, such person is sign the relevant sections assigned in the Forms to the Mason AND to the Contractor accordingly.

 

 

Transition period

The Kamra tal-Periti, the Building and Construction Agency, and the Planning Authority have reached agreement on the following:

  • Any Forms submitted prior to the 1st November 2019 will be considered as valid, unless they are not compliant with the relevant requirements;
  • Until the 30th November 2019, the Planning Authority and the Building and Construction Agency shall accept the submission of the old versions of the Forms, in an effort to avoid having to obtain all signatures if these have already been obtained in the past days or weeks – Periti are nevertheless advised that it is recommended to use the new Forms whenever possible during this transition period;
  • The old Forms will no longer be accessible on the Planning Authority website as from the 1st November 2019;
  • Form 25A shall be repealed as from the 1st November 2019, and no such requests shall be entertained thereafter.

 

Additional notes

Various amendments to the text of the Forms have been effected. It is not the scope of this Circular to go into the detail of such amendments, and the rationale behind them. Periti are advised to read the new content of the Forms carefully before signing off, and to advise their Clients and other persons required to sign the Forms to do the same.

The Kamra tal-Periti remains available to provide clarifications on specific queries by Periti, and encourages all its members to submit any feedback on the new Forms accordingly.

It is intended to continue discussions with the Building and Construction Agency regarding the templates for Condition Reports and Method Statements that are currently downloadable from the Planning Authority website. Any suggestions from Periti in this regard are most welcome.

Note

All Directives and Circulars are being sent to all periti who are on the Kamra’s database. If you meet colleagues who are not receiving such communications, kindly ask them to send an email to buildingregs@kamratalperiti.org so that the records can be updated.

 

Perit Simone Vella Lenicker
President

 

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PR 28/19 | Kamra tal-Periti celebrates three important dates in its calendar

Verzjoni bil-Malti

The Kamra tal-Periti joins its European and global counterparts in celebrating three important days which remind us of the important role the profession has in ensuring a better environment for all mankind.

 

World Habitat Day 2019

World Habitat Day was established in 1985 by the United Nations General Assembly, and was first celebrated in 1986. The United Nations designated the first Monday of October of every year as World Habitat Day to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter. It also reminds us that we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities and towns.

Building on last year’s theme (Municipal Solid Waste Management), the theme for 2019 is: Frontier Technologies as an innovative tool to transform waste to wealth. Technology has great potential to improve how people work and live, to significantly accelerate efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and address climate change. Frontier technologies, such as automation, robotics, electric vehicles, renewable energy technologies, biotechnologies, and artificial intelligence can transform the social, economic and environmental spheres. They can offer better, cheaper, faster, scalable and easy to use solutions for every-day problems, including waste management. The task ahead is to harness frontier technologies to achieve sustainable waste management while mitigating their possible adverse economic, social and political consequences.

 

World Architecture Day 2019

In 1986, the International Union of Architects (UIA) established World Architecture Day to coincide with World Habitat Day, with the aim to draw the attention of professionals and the public to issues concerning cities and housing. The theme chosen for 2019 is “Architecture … housing for all”.

More than one billion of the 7.5 billion human beings on our planet live in places they build for themselves, using whatever materials they can scavenge, on whatever land they can claim, often tenuously. Millions lack permanent shelter altogether, as refugees and persons displaced by conflict and calamity. Architects around the world will be considering how design has an essential role in alleviating human suffering, reducing planetary burdens, and enhancing the quality of life for everyone.

 

European Engineers Day 2019

Every 5th October, the European engineering organisations ECEC (European Council of Engineers Chambers), FEANI (European Federation of National Engineering Associations), ECCE (European Council of Civil Engineers), together with ENAEE (European Network for Accreditation of Engineering Education) celebrate European Engineers Day to draw attention to the importance of securing the availability of excellent engineering solutions in Europe. The impact of engineering is visible in every aspect of human life, through increasingly more sophisticated inventions, techniques and equipment, and this Day is a good opportunity to remind the profession of the importance of achieving excellence in their respective fields.

 

For further information visit:

https://www.un.org/en/events/habitatday/

http://zvin.mjt.lu/nl2/zvin/l6wv2.html?hl=fr

CIR 14/19 | BRO Forms

Dear Colleagues,

As you are aware, the amendments to Legal Notice 180 of 2019 came into force on the 29th July 2019, and immediately the Council of the Kamra tal-Periti requested the Building Regulation Office (BRO) to update the relevant notification and exemption forms to bring these in line with LN 180/2019 and with the Letter of Commitment presented by Government to the Kamra tal-Periti on Friday 2nd July 2019.

Several meeting and discussions have ensued regarding various changes to the forms, including the Kamra’s proposal to completely separate the planning process from the construction process by amending the Commencement Notice that is required to be submitted to the Planning Authority to contain only that information which is relevant to the planning process, and the rest of the information relating to the construction process being amalgamated within the BRO Forms. You can review the Kamra’s proposal here.

Due to various legal considerations, the amendment of the forms is taking some time, and therefore the Kamra has reached an interim agreement with the BRO on the following matters:

  1. The project Perit is not responsible for the “execution of the project” in terms of the Legal Notice but for the design, direction and general supervision of the works in order to ensure that these address the requirements of the Legal Notice. The “execution of the project” is the contractor’s responsibility. In view of this, all phrases stating “Project Perit (Perit responsible for the execution of the project)” should be changed manually to read: “Project Perit (Perit responsible for the project)” by crossing out the words “the execution of”.
  2. The Perit in charge is not required to “approve” the Site Technical Officer (STO), but to accept the person nominated nominated by the contractor to fulfil this role, as long as such person is listed on the Register being compiled by the Building Regulation Office (BRO). The uploading of the relevant forms by the perit in charge is to be construed as an implied acceptance of the STO, and this as stated in the Letter of Commitment. In view of this, wherever the words “nominated by contractor and approved by Perit in charge of project” appear on the forms these are to be manually changed to read: “nominated by contractor” by crossing out the words “and approved by Perit in charge of project”.

Meanwhile, the Council of the Kamra tal-Periti will continue to liaise with government to ensure that the forms are updated without further delay and to ensure that these comprehensively address the varied nature of construction projects.

 

Note

All Directives and Circulars are being sent to all periti who are on the Kamra’s database. If you meet colleagues who are not receiving such communications, kindly ask them to send an email to buildingregs@kamratalperiti.org so that the records can be updated.

 

Perit Simone Vella Lenicker
President

 

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PR 26/19 | New Building and Construction Agency

Verzjoni bil-Malti

The Kamra tal-Periti welcomes the establishment of a new Building and Construction Agency through the publication of Legal Notice 192 of 2019. This new Agency is the precursor of the Building and Construction Authority that will be set up in the coming months, and which Government is committed to establish as outlined in the Letter of Commitment addressed to the Kamra tal-Periti last week.

The new Agency is tasked with the design, implementation and dissemination of policies together with the consolidation and review of laws and regulations, in the form of a national building code, as well as with carrying out all the necessary preparations to set up the Building and Construction Authority.

This is an important milestone in ensuring better regulation of the industry, and the Kamra tal-Periti looks forward to presenting its proposals outlined in A Modern Building and Construction Framework for Malta to the Agency, with a view towards implementing them in the near future.