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PR 08/21 | Periti Act to initiate modernisation of the profession

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On Friday, the Kamra tal-Periti, in collaboration with the Ministry for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects and SACES, organised a conference entitled The Renewal Agenda: Modernisation of the Profession. The event follows the unanimous approval by Parliament, earlier this year, of the new Periti Act: a historic milestone that marks the culmination of a 14 year-long wait.

The Council and the Ministry have now concluded the first tranche of subsidiary legislation necessary to bring several provisions of the act into force, and the transition from the old to the new Periti Act will begin in the coming weeks. This will initiate a long-awaited process of renewal of the profession, with far-reaching effects that will change the way it is structured, as well as the role of the Kamra, the way warrants are conferred, and new obligations on Periti.

 

 

Dr Ian Borg, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects, outlined the importance of the new Periti Act, which was the result of intense hard work and perseverance, and how it will facilitate the modernisation of the profession for the benefit of the public.

“We introduced provisions that give a broader sense of legal certainty, accountability, security and transparency in the building and construction industry,” Minister Borg said.

He also emphasised how the new Act is underpinned by the value of striving for quality. “It was time to raise the bar even higher and through the amendments made in the new Act we are promising a more qualitative profession with the highest skilled people.”

The subsidiary legislation, which will be brought into effect in the coming weeks, will bring Malta in line with European Directives concerning the performance of the service of architects and civil engineers in Member States. One of the main benefits of this is that the local professional will become recognised on the same level as European counterparts.

Minister Borg concluded his address by announcing that his Ministry is in advanced talks with the Kamra to allocate funds to build a new digital platform whereby new procedures that will be in place in the coming months can be carried out efficiently and securely. He also pledged his commitment to continue supporting the Kamra and the profession to improve the quality of the built environment and meet the ambitious goals that Government has set regarding the environment and climate change, in achieving which periti will play a crucial role.

 

 

Perit Toni Bezzina, Opposition Spokesperson for Transport and Infrastructure, emphasised the bipartisan nature of the Parliamentary process leading to the approval of the new Periti Act. “We should be truly proud of the political maturity we have displayed in reaching this important milestone,” Bezzina remarked.

Bezzina pointed at the strengthening of the role of the Kamra tal-Periti which, for the past century, has given the highest level of service to the Maltese population. Bezzina went on to state that with the increased responsibility of the Kamra tal-Periti, it can no longer function on a voluntary basis.

“The Opposition recognises the new roles the Kamra was conferred in the law and will thus be ensuring that the Kamra has all the necessary resources to fulfil its new regulatory functions for the benefit of the profession itself, but also for the benefit of all Maltese citizens.”

 

 

In his welcome address, KTP President Perit Andre Pizzuto stated that the need for the renewal of the profession, the construction industry and Malta’s built environment has long been the focus of the Kamra, albeit largely ignored.

He welcomed the fact that political leaders are recognising the need to address the concerns that are adversely affecting quality of life, such as the erosion of the quality of our built environment, the loss of our cultural heritage, the need to introduce proper building and construction regulations, and the need to protect our environment.

Pizzuto explained that renewal is a process that requires a plan with a sequence of coordinated initiatives whose overarching objective keeps in focus the betterment of the profession, the industry and our built environment.

“The Kamra’s renewal agenda begins with the modernisation of the profession,” he remarked.

Pizzuto stated that the Kamra too needed to modernise, not just because of the legislative changes that are being brought about, but also to reflect the values that embody the profession today, while remaining mindful of its legacy.

To mark the beginning of the renewal process, Pizzuto unveiled the Kamra’s new brand identity.

“The Kamra’s new identity, featuring the three pillars of sustainability, reflects the social and cultural aspirations of today, and will serve as a constant reminder for the profession of its responsibility to promote sustainable development that strikes a balance between the economic, social and environmental needs of the country by harnessing and employing its creative and technical competences,” Pizzuto concluded.

 

 

Later in the conference, Pizzuto provided an in-depth review of the changes that will be brought into force with the first tranche of subsidiary legislation.

Presentations on the context that gave rise to the need for the new Act were given by Perit Simone Vella Lenicker, Past President KTP, Prof Alex Torpiano, Dean of the Faculty for the Built Environment, and Ms Lucienne Meilak, Director of the Policy Development and Programme Implementation Directorate at MTIP, who played a key role in the drafting and approval of the Act.

 

Perit Dr Amber Wismayer, Vice President and Hon. Secretary, KTP, and Perit Dr Jeanette Muñoz Abela, Council Member, KTP, also gave interventions on specific innovations of the Act.

 

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PR 07/21 | Perit Dr Jeanette Muñoz Abela elected to European Council of Civil Engineers Executive Board

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Perit Dr Jeanette Muñoz Abela was elected to the Executive Board of the European Council of Civil Engineers at the 73rd ECCE General Meeting held on 23rd October 2021.

Dr Muñoz Abela serves as council member of the Kamra tal-Periti (KTP) since 2016 where she acts as its representative on the European Council of Civil Engineers (ECCE), Fédération Européenne d’Associations Nationales d’Ingénieurs (FEANI) and Inġiniera Malta in their General Assemblies as well as a member of the Union Internationale des Architects (UIA) Committee “International Women in Architecture”.

She was also appointed as the Chair of the Permanent Committee on Engineering of the Kamra tal-Periti and is the national representative of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE).

Dr Muñoz Abela is also a lecturer at the University of Malta within the Faculty for the Built Environment and sits on the University Senate (2019-2021), the Faculty Board (2019 – to date) and the Doctoral Committee (2019 – to date).

The Kamra tal-Periti warmly congratulates Dr Jeanette Muñoz Abela on her achievement.

The Kamra tal-Periti would also like to congratulate Dipl. Ing Andreas Brandner on becoming the new president of the European Council of Civil Engineers while expressing thanks and appreciation to Ing. Aris Chatzidakis for his work during the last three years.

The new ECCE Executive Board is composed as follows:

Andreas Brandner President Austria
Aris Chatzidakis Immediate Past President Greece
Platonas Stylianou Vice President / President Elect Cyprus
Helena Endriksone Vice President / Treasurer Latvia
Paul Coughlan Executive Board Member U.K.
Jeanette Muñoz Abela Executive Board Member Malta
Olga Radulovic Executive Board Member Montenegro
Dimitar Natchev Executive Board Member Bulgaria
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PR 06/21 | Human decency before profit

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The construction industry has hit yet another low today should reports carried in the local press be confirmed regarding an as-yet unnamed contractor having unceremoniously dumped a seriously injured worker on the side of a deserted road.

As we discuss ambitious climate change targets, low carbon strategy, and the New Bauhaus Initiative, this incident is a stark reminder that some industry operators are yet to reach basic levels of responsible behaviour grounded in humanity and compassion.

Until contractors are required to possess a licence to operate, which among other things would ensure that they adhere to construction regulations and provide lawful employment, we will never make the quality leap we require. With a licensing regime finally in place, it would be expected that such a contractor would lose said licence and would be unable to operate again should such allegations be confirmed.

The Kamra tal-Periti is aware that the discussion on draft regulations on the licensing of contractors are scheduled to resume at BICC shortly, after having been on hold since May 2019. The Kamra shall be insisting that the new licensing regulations include provisions sanctioning or barring any contractors who were found to be responsible for serious injury or the loss of life of their workmen or neighbours through negligence prior to their coming into force.

 

The industry must send a strong signal to “cowboy” operators that all its main stakeholders shall adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards behaviour which is inhumane, exploitative, and negligent to its labour force.

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PR 05/21 | The revocation of warrants on criminal conviction and the role of the Kamra tal-Periti

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Following the reading of Magistrate Mifsud’s sentence regarding the role of Perit Roderick Camilleri and Perit Anthony Mangion in the tragic death of Miriam Pace, it is pertinent to inform the public about relevant aspects of the law and the role of the Kamra tal-Periti in this regard.

 

Suspension or Revocation of Warrants and Memberships

The most frequent question that the Kamra is receiving from media houses is whether the convicted periti are members of the Kamra and, if so, whether it intends suspending their membership. There are a number of points that need to be clarified for the benefit of the public on this point:

 

1. The Kamra is not an association, a club or a union for architects and civil engineers. It is set up by Law as a regulating body of the profession and to act as an official consultant to the State on matters related to the industry.

2. All members of the profession form part of the Kamra tal-Periti automatically, are subject to its disciplinary procedures, and are obliged to follow its directives and code of conduct.

3. Expulsion from the Kamra would entail expulsion from the profession. Such an expulsion can only happen following the suspension or revocation of a perit’s warrant in accordance with the law. It is indeed the Council’s role to investigate any misconduct of periti and to establish adequate disciplinary measures that may be necessary to protect the public and the reputation of the profession. With the passing of the new Periti Act, the Council will also have the power, after carrying out an investigation, to delegate the conduct of the disciplinary hearings to a Periti Professional Conduct Board.

4. Any disciplinary decision of the Council of the Kamra can be appealed before the Court of Appeal, and thus the Council acts as a quasi-judicial body. In this respect, the Council is obliged to adhere to the principles of natural justice enshrined in the Constitution. These include the right to a fair hearing. Failure to abide by these principles would invalidate any disciplinary decision of the Kamra tal-Periti on appeal.

5. To ensure a fair hearing, the Kamra cannot pronounce itself publicly on the merits of a case until its disciplinary proceedings are finalised. If it does, it would prejudice the relative conduct proceedings.

6. It is also pertinent to point out that a perit can lose his or her warrant in one of two ways:

  • Through a decision of the Council, and eventually of the Professional Conduct Board; or
  • Through a criminal conviction with a prison term of at least one year, even if suspended.

In the latter case, the revocation would be automatic and would not require a specific pronouncement on this point in the judgement.

The role of the Periti Warranting Board is to execute the Council’s or the Court’s decision, as applicable, and has no discretionary powers on these matters.

7. One of the principles of natural justice is non bis in idem; i.e., no legal action can be instituted twice for the same cause of action. In view of this, the Council was unable to proceed with its investigation given that the specific charges were not made known to the Kamra until today.

8. In March 2021, the Court had denied the Kamra’s request to be granted special access to the magisterial inquiry to extract any relevant information for its disciplinary investigation.

9. The Kamra cannot take any ulterior disciplinary measures on points already decided upon by the Criminal Court, as confirmed by its legal consultants and the Office of the Attorney General.

 

 

 

What happens next?

The two investigations which had been hitherto suspended due to the criminal proceedings, will be reopened by the Council to determine the following points:

  1. Establish whether the prosecution or the convicted parties will file an appeal against the judgement. If so, the Council will need to await its outcome and proceed accordingly;
  2. Analyse the charges and judgement to establish whether there are any disciplinary merits not covered by the criminal case, including breach of the code of conduct, breach of a directive of the Kamra, professional misconduct or negligence, and bringing the profession into disrepute.

 

Beyond the merits of the criminal and disciplinary proceedings, the testimony brought before the Criminal Court, particularly that of the Court-appointed experts, has exposed serious flaws within the regulation of the industry that need to be addressed in earnest and with competence. The Kamra shall also continue monitoring the criminal proceedings instituted against the contractor and the worker involved to determine whether they bring to the fore any further systemic failures within the existing chaotic regulatory framework governing the industry.

The Kamra has been campaigning on the need for reforms for several years, and has indeed published its own detailed proposals for reform in May 2019 in line with its legal and moral obligations to advise the State on how best to safeguard the public interest.

More recently, it launched a public consultation on its redraft of the infamous Legal Notice 136 of 2019, which was heavily criticised during the criminal proceedings, and shall shortly be publishing the final amended version having taken on board the feedback it received.

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PR 03/21 | KTP welcomes the passing of the Periti Act and BCA Act by Parliament

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The Kamra tal-Periti is deeply satisfied that after an interminable struggle lasting fourteen years and spanning five administrations, the law regulating the profession of periti has been unanimously approved in Parliament yesterday evening.

The new Periti Act will allow for a long-overdue modernisation of the profession and the strengthening of the Kamra’s role in regulating the profession.

One of the main the changes the new Act will bring about is the introduction of Certificates to Practise issued annually by the Kamra to warrant holders providing services to the public and therefore carrying liability for their services. The issuance of Certificates to Practise will be conditional to warrant holders possessing professional indemnity insurance or another form of adequate protective cover and minimum continuous professional development training. The possessors of the Certificate to Practise, whether in the private or public sector, will also be issued with an official professional stamp as a mark of recognition for their clients, and public and private institutions receiving official documentation from periti. This reform will serve to raise the bar and professionalism of warrant holders to the benefit of the wider public and the profession itself.

Another key change is the introduction of two lists within the warrant of Periti – the Perit Arkitett and Periti Inġiniera Ċivili. Apart from addressing infringement procedures opened by the European Commission against Malta about the previous Periti Act, this innovation creates a distinction between the professional qualification routes for architects and civil engineers and marks the beginning of a transition from generalists to specialists in various fields of practice. This distinction is expected to greatly benefit the quality of our built environment and the quality of construction.

Of great importance to the Kamra, of course, is the consolidation of the Kamra’s role as the regulator and sole representative body of periti in Malta. It also introduces the Periti Professional Conduct Board, a new body to which professional conduct cases can be delegated by the Council of the Kamra to improve its efficiency and guarantee a speedier due process for all parties concerned.

This Act was passed during the Kamra’s centenary year. It was indeed just over a hundred years ago, as the country was exiting another pandemic, that the Kamra was set up following a spate of building collapses. The Kamra has evolved over the past one hundred years but remains a widely trusted and respected institution that not only looks after the interests of the profession but also seeks to protect the common good in all its efforts.

With the passing of this Act, the Kamra is now in a position to gradually begin rolling out long-overdue reforms within the profession that depended on the new Periti Act. These reforms will bring the profession firmly into the 21st Century. It will also help begin to address the serious problems within the construction industry and our built environment.

 

The Kamra tal-Periti also strongly welcomes the concurrent passing of the Building and Construction Authority Act. While the Periti Act and the Kamra tal-Periti will serve to underpin the reform of the building and construction industry, this new authority will serve as its foundation.

Most of the concerns raised by the Kamra in recent weeks about the Bill have been addressed in Parliament through amendments brought forward by Government and Opposition.

There is still a significant amount of work to be done to align Malta’s building and construction industry with that of our European partners. However, the Kamra remains resolved to support Government in the drafting of regulations and their implementation to ensure that the public’s health and safety and quality of life are not only protected but enhanced.

 

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PR 09/20 | Kamra tal-Periti celebrates its centenary

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Today the Kamra tal-Periti celebrates a century of service to the profession and to society.

The foundations of the Kamra were laid amid the Sette Giugno uprisings of 1919 when, despite the turmoil brought about by the riots and the end of the Spanish flu pandemic, the new Governor, Field Marshall Herbert Charles Onslow Plumer brought into force the Architects’ Ordinance on the 25th July 1919. Less than a year later, on the 12th June 1920, he enacted Government Notice 202, which established the Chamber of Architects, now known as the Kamra tal-Periti.

As the sole recognised professional body representing architects and civil engineers in Malta, the Kamra’s  mission is to support members of the profession in achieving excellence in their practice of architecture and engineering in the interest of the community. It is also delegated with the duty of enquiring into any charge of professional misconduct or abuse made against any periti in connection with the exercise of their profession or with professional matters.

Over the years, the Kamra tal-Periti has established itself as the voice of the profession, and has taken on the role of promoting values of economic, social, cultural and environmental sustainability amongst its members, as well as promoting beauty in architecture and the built environment.

General Meeting of the Camera degli Architetti

As it traces its roots over the past century, the Kamra tal-Periti is now looking towards a future which is founded on a key set of principles: Quality, design, community, progress, identity, innovation, culture, sustainability. These are the elements that must shape our built environment, forging the very essence of the spaces we inhabit in the present, and for generations to come.

 

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PR 09/19 | Building Industry is regulated by 22 entities

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On the 26th April 2019, the Council of the Kamra tal-Periti met with a delegation of the Partit Nazzjonalista, headed by Party Leader Dr Adrian Delia, who highlighted a number of issues which the Party considers to be of utmost importance, including the need to shift from a mindset of development permitting to one of planning, and the importance of quality in the building industry. Dr Delia also highlighted the need for a long term vision for the country, and stated that the Party will insist that all the necessary technical and environmental studies related to the proposed link between Malta and Gozo are published prior to a final decision being taken.

Perit Simone Vella Lenicker, President of the Kamra tal-Periti, noted that the Chamber presented its proposals for an overhaul of the building and construction regulations to Government just two weeks ago. These proposals were approved by the profession at a General Meeting held last November, and were positively received by the Parliamentary Secretary Chris Agius. These proposals will ensure better quality in the industry and will bring it firmly into the 21st century.

She also emphasised that shifting from a mindset of development permitting to one of strategic and local planning is imperative to ensure that the urban quality within our towns and villages is not lost forever.

With regard to the proposed Malta-Gozo tunnel, Perit Vella Lenicker reiterated the position of the Kamra that the studies should be carried out and published before any decisions are taken. She also stated that it was worrying that motions had to be passed in Parliament to ensure that all regulations and legislative requirements are adhered to, and this further emphasised the need for an urgent review of the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development and the translation of the Plan into the Local Plans, both of which are now practically obsolete.

A number of other issues were discussed, including the need for an architecture policy, a landscape policy and a skyline policy, as well as the need to introduce a culture of design competitions for projects which are funded by public money.

The Council of the Kamra tal-Periti also presented its vision, as a member of the Architects’ Council of Europe, for the upcoming MEP elections, including the need to achieve a better quality of the built environment, the need to secure affordable housing of high quality, the need to re-think the connection between climate change and the built environment and the need to improve education and up-skilling across the sector.

The delegation of the Kamra tal-Periti included also Perit André Pizzuto (Vice President and Treasurer), Professor Alex Torpiano (Past President), and Council Members Periti Sandro Cini, Gaston Camilleri and Alberto Miceli Farrugia.

 

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PR 08/19 | The inadequacy of building and construction regulations

Following the two incidents in construction sites in Swieqi and Guardamangia that occurred yesterday, and several others over the course of the past months, the Kamra tal-Periti feels compelled, yet again, to point out the grave inadequacies of our building and construction regulations.

The Kamra tal-Periti has been exhorting Government to regulate the industry for many years, both through widely reported press statements, and at various meetings held with successive Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries responsible for the industry.

The rate of construction accidents in Malta, whether resulting in damage to neighbouring properties, injury or even death, is unacceptable. The ever-increasing complexity of today’s buildings, compounded by the current frenzy of the industry to turn around projects as quickly as possible, urgently requires an immediate and major overhaul of the country’s building and construction regulatory processes.

 

The current legislation in Malta is characterised by excessive fragmentation of responsibilities.

 

Article 1638 of the Civil Code states that [i]f a building or other considerable stone work erected under a building contract shall, in the course of fifteen years from the day on which the construction of the same was completed, wholly or in part, or be in manifest danger of falling to ruin, owing to a defect in the construction, or even owing to some defect in the ground, the architect and the contractor shall be responsible therefor.

This article in the Civil Code does not establish clear lines of responsibility, which are generally decided by the Courts when similar incidents occur, depending on the particular circumstances of each case. Moreover, whereas Periti carry a professional warrant and are subject to a Code of Professional Conduct, contractors are not regulated at all. This is especially worrying when it comes to demolition and excavation contractors. The absence of a registration system means that anyone with demolition or excavation plant can carry out such works, without any basic training, technical knowledge, or insurance cover.

The Avoidance of Damage to Third Party Property Regulations (L.N. 72 of 2013) place the onus of enforcing the implementation of a works method statement drawn up by a Perit outlining the method of construction on a site manager purposely appointed by the developer, and on the contractor executing the works. Regulation 10 states [p]rofessional responsibility for the method statement remains with the perit who prepares it, whilst ultimate responsibility for adhering to the method statement rests with the site manager and the contractor.

Once again, the regulations do not establish minimum basic training or competences for site managers, not even as basic a requirement as literacy. The regulations even allow the developer to take on the role of site manager, in what is clearly a blatant conflict of interest sanctioned by the law. Indeed, if the developer fails to appoint a site manager, the regulations presume that the developer is ipso facto carrying the responsibilities of a site manager.

 

When two key players in the industry are not required to possess basic competence and are wholly unregulated, the public is exposed to unacceptably high and unnecessary risks.

 

The Kamra’s calls for an overhaul of the regulatory framework were finally heeded by Government last October when it launched the White Paper for the setting up of a new Building and Construction Authority. Just two weeks ago, the Kamra held talks with Government on its detailed proposals for the regulation of the industry to bring it in line with other European countries. The Kamra will be making its proposals public in the coming days.

The Kamra tal-Periti will not be commenting on these or other specific cases until investigations are concluded so as not to prejudice any potential proceedings.

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PR 07/19 | Kamra tal-Periti presents its vision for national building and construction regulation

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Yesterday (11th April 2019), members of the Council of the Kamra tal-Periti presented the Chamber’s vision for an overhaul of the current building regulations, which are both outdated and insufficient to ensure the highest standards of quality in the construction industry. This vision was presented to the Honourable Mr Chris Agius, Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and the Property Market, representatives of the Building Regulation Office (BRO) and the Building Industry Consultative Council (BICC), as well as consultants appointed by Government to oversee the establishment of a new Authority which is intended to regulate the industry.

Perit Simone Vella Lenicker, President of the Kamra tal-Periti, explained that the proposals being presented were approved by an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Chamber held last November, and confirmed the Kamra’s full availability to participate in discussions regarding the formulation of new building regulations, as well as the technical expertise of its members to ensure the highest standards within the sector.

Vice President Perit André Pizzuto gave an extensive presentation of the Kamra’s position, starting with an overview of the current situation and its limitations. He then went on to outline the Kamra’s proposals which include the consolidation of various regulators within the new Authority, the dire need for a comprehensive register of contractors, the importance of contemporary regulations which are not prescriptive but performance-based, and the promotion of a self-regulatory approach by the various professionals involved in the construction process.

The Kamra’s proposals were received positively, and discussions will continue in the coming months to ensure full synergy between the profession and the government’s advisors.

 

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PR 06/19 | Architecture is a discipline for the common good

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 “The focus will be put on architecture as a discipline that encompasses the right balance between cultural, social, economic, environmental and technical aspects for the common good”.

This quote is taken from the European Council Conclusions for the 2018-22 EU Work Plan for Culture, under the topic “High-quality architecture and built environment for everyone.” This important milestone signifies a paradigm shift within the European Union, which has recognised architecture as a discipline for the common good. This is an important recognition that can serve as the basis on which we can build our policies and work in the future.

In a statement issued on the 5th March 2019, Georg Pendl, current President of the Architects’ Council of Europe (ACE), stated that this “shows that the EU institutions no longer define architecture as being solely part of the construction industry. Does our profession share this limited point of view? Mostly not, bearing in mind that over 90% of architectural offices are small and medium-sized or micro enterprises. But, this does not mean that we would cease to recognise our role as a part of the service sector tightly connected to the construction industry.

The Kamra tal-Periti, which is a Member of the ACE, had actively lobbied for the recognition of the practice of architecture as one of the pillars of culture. It had, in fact, met with MEP Dr Francis Zammit Dimech, who is a Member of the European Parliament Committee for Culture and Education, and who had pushed forward the views of the Kamra and of ACE on this matter.

It is therefore with great satisfaction that the Kamra welcomes this development, and looks forward to seeing this approach being adopted locally.

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