BCA had oversight of Sofia collapse site, says former regulator / Malta News Briefing – Tuesday 17 October 2023

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BCA had oversight of Sofia collapse site, says former regulator

A former high-ranking regulator in the construction sector has stated that the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) had jurisdiction over standalone buildings, such as the Corradino furniture factory that tragically collapsed in December 2022, resulting in the death of Jean Paul Sofia. Michael Ferry’s testimony, provided during a public inquiry into the December 2022 incident, contradicts the claims made by BCA officials, who asserted that the authority had no oversight of the site because the construction work did not impact any third parties. Ferry, who previously headed the BCA’s predecessor, the Buildings Regulation Office, and subsequently held the position of Chief Officer for Building Code, Policy, and EU Affairs at the BCA when it was established two years ago, firmly responded to a query by inquiry chairman Joseph Zammit McKeon about the scope of BCA’s responsibility for standalone properties. He affirmed that the BCA did, indeed, have jurisdiction over such properties. (Times of Malta)

Absolute majority feels Malta is headed in the wrong direction – survey

69% of Maltese voters believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction, a Maltatoday survey has found. Only a fifth of respondents have observed an improvement in their personal finances, with 39% feeling financial strain. The economic strain appears to be contributing to a sense of disillusionment in the political arena, with inflation topping the list of concerns among non-voters, followed by worries regarding the substantial presence of ‘foreigners’ residing in Malta. Despite this growing sense of disillusionment, the government’s overall performance is still rated at 2.5 out of a maximum score of 5. This rating signifies a pass mark, indicating a somewhat lukewarm approval characterized by a general lack of enthusiasm.

Curb inflation, increase competitiveness and productivity, Chamber of Commerce says

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise, and Industry has stated that it is crucial, given the ongoing high inflation in the country, to explore avenues to enhance the purchasing power of lower-income groups without inadvertently triggering wage inflation across the entire spectrum. The primary discussion that needs to occur with social partners at this juncture, and one that should be given utmost priority, pertains to how to effectively counter inflation. While a substantial segment of the population can still afford to absorb higher service costs, any cost increases, including wage hikes, will lead to price escalations, making it even more challenging for low-income individuals to cope, as emphasized by the chamber.

Morning Briefing

Man charged with double Marsa murder
A man has been formally accused of the double homicide that occurred at a stable in Marsa. Iddirisu Faisal, a 34-year-old resident of Marsa originally from Ghana, is facing charges for the murders of Joseph Bartolo and Carmela Abela, as well as the attempted murder of a woman from Nigeria. Furthermore, Faisal, who works as a plasterer, is also charged with causing severe harm to the woman and causing minor injuries to another man. In addition, he faces charges related to resisting arrest and inflicting minor injuries on a police officer. During the court proceedings, it was disclosed that at the time of his apprehension, the accused possessed solely an Italian identification card and an expired Ghanaian identification card. Faisal’s legal counsel informed the court that the defendant intended to enter a not guilty plea for the charges. (Times of Malta)

Daphne Caruana Galizia remembered in silent gathering

A silent gathering was held in Bidnija to mark the sixth anniversary of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination. Caruana Galizia was killed in a car bombing incident near her residence at approximately 3 p.m. on October 16, 2017. A number of speakers shared their memories of the late journalist and called on authorities to ensure that the rule of law is protected and for the recommendations of the public inquiry which followed the murder to be implemented. So far, three men have faced charges in connection with her murder. Vince Muscat, also known as il-Koħħu, opted for a plea deal and received a 15-year prison sentence in exchange for providing evidence against his co-defendants. Brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio changed their plea to guilty shortly after the jury had been selected. They were subsequently sentenced to 40 years in prison. Meanwhile, Yorgen Fenech, the alleged mastermind in the murder case, remains in custody as he awaits trial by jury. (The Malta Independent)

UNESCO concerned at harm to Valletta by excess development

UNESCO has expressed apprehensions regarding the implications of development initiatives in Malta, particularly in relation to the World Heritage Site of Valletta. These concerns have arisen following reports from various organisations, including Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA), an NGO actively advocating against detrimental construction projects in and around Valletta.
In a statement, Monday, FAA pointed out that UNESCO has identified several projects that may have the potential to impact the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of Valletta, a critical aspect in determining the status of World Heritage Sites. FAA has urged an immediate shift away from the “development at any cost” approach and underscored the significance of safeguarding Malta’s heritage for future generations. (Newsbook)

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