BRO should set up own contractor’s register; not employ voluntary body – Ombudsman

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The Office of the Ombudsman has said that the Building Regulations Office (BRO) should remove and correct misleading marketing that suggest it authorized an NGO to compile a register of contractors and that it should be doing this independently.

These are the two conclusions and recommendations that the Commissioner for Environment and Planning issued to the BRO after a complaint was made against the body after it was found to have delegated responsibility for registering building contractors to ‘a voluntary organisation,’ the Malta Developer’s Association.

A copy of the investigation carried out by the Commissioner, was obtained by Newsbook.com.mt.

The Commissioner found that the BRO had acted improperly by delegating this function to MDA.

According to the Building Regulations Act XII of 2011, it was in fact the responsibility of the BRO to conduct and compile such a register and that the Minister (in this case Dr Ian Borg) ‘may delegate these functions to any other government department or body corporate established by law.’

The Commissioner says that, ‘The Malta Developers Association is NOT a body corporate established by law by an association set up by a group of developers. Consequently, this is totally irregular.’

Charging €50 an application

According to the Commissioner’s investigation, once the BRO had reached an agreement with the MDA over the creation of the register, those looking to be registered were directed to the MDA. MDA in turn, were charging €50 an application.

The Register of Economic Operators is understood to have been open between July 10th and September 30th, with the MDA saying they would have a list by that point.

Speaking to Newsbook.com.mt in July, that MDA had been calling for a building contractor’s register since 2018. MDA President, Sandro Chetcuti, had told Newsbook.com.mt that this initiative was intended to try to marshal all operators in this field towards compliance with building regulations and construction site management.

“Contractors’ register to be published by September” – MDA

In the same month (25th July), the Office of the Ombudsman had received a complaint about the BRO deciding to appoint the MDA to begin the registration process. Among the concerns raised, the MDA would now have sensitive information on contractors (GDPR), and that some of ‘whom may be competitors of person in the MDA administration.’

This raised concerns about abuse of the information as well as competition law.

On the 29th July, the investigation was triggered following the complaint. The investigation showed that correspondence with the BRO showed that the body had said nothing it had done had been against the law, something the Commissioner said was untrue.

BRO had gone on to say that this was a ‘voluntary register at this stage’ and a ‘preliminary step to gauge the situation dynamics prior to embarking on a fully fledged certification as envisaged in the Act (Building Regulations Act)’

MDA is understood to have not been involved in the investigation as the Ombudsman did not have the jurisdiction over the organisation.

BRO denies the accusations

The Building Regulations Office has denied the accusation by the Ombudsman that it was breaking the law by tasking the Malta Developers Association (MDA) with drawing up a list of contractors.

In a statement BRO said that it had not delegated its work to the Association but had ‘invited’ the MDA to draw up a list of contractors. The BRO added that the exercise carried out by MDA would help the government better understand how to go about drafting the necessary regulations.

The Office said that it could not understand how the Environment and Planning Commissioner had come to the conclusion that it had delegated its power illegally to the Association.

Read more:

Contractor’s Register to be created with immediate effect – Borg

MDA proposes contractors’ registry to mitigate inconveniences to residents