Govern­ment pro­poses the set­ting up of one cen­tral in­spec­tion co­or­di­na­tion unit to mon­i­tor busi­nesses

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Gabriel Schem­bri

Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day de­bated on the sec­ond read­ing of a bill re­gard­ing govern­ment in­spec­tions which pro­poses the set­ting up of one cen­tral of­fice, or agency, to con­trol and reg­u­late busi­nesses.

Min­is­ter for the Econ­omy Chris Car­dona ex­plained that the aim of this cen­tral in­spec­tion co­or­di­na­tion unit will be to al­le­vi­ate the bur­den on au­thor­i­ties and in­di­vid­u­als. He said that it was the govern­ment’s pre-elec­toral prom­ise to re­duce bu­reau­cracy by 25% and make ad­min­is­tra­tion sim­pler.

In­spec­tions are car­ried out by 23 dif­fer­ent en­ti­ties in­clud­ing the Health Direc­torate, Jobs Plus, Malta In­dus­trial Parks, Planning Au­thor­ity, Malta Tourism Au­thor­ity and more. The min­is­ter ex­plained that 16 govern­ment de­part­ments spend more than €1.7 mil­lion to carry out the nec­es­sary in­spec­tions.

An in­spec­tion re­form team has al­ready started to work to set up this of­fice.

“We will also pro­vide a check list be­fore­hand so that busi­nesses can be more in­formed how to com­ply,” he ex­plained. The aim of this check­list is to co­or­di­nate in­spec­tions eas­ily.

This mea­sure is ex­pected to re­duce ef­fi­ciency cost by €1 mil­lion each year.

Shadow Min­is­ter for the Econ­omy Clau­dio Grech said that in prin­ci­ple, the Op­po­si­tion agrees with the con­cept but has se­ri­ous reser­va­tions at why this unit should be es­tab­lished in the way pro­posed.

“We be­lieve that the govern­ment needs to get its act to­gether and step up its ac­tions to address the mas­sive prob­lem of the un­li­censed ven­dors and il­le­gal trad­ing. In too many in­stances, lo­cal re­tail­ers are be­ing short-changed by for­eign op­er­a­tors set­ting up ir­reg­u­larly. In the con­sul­ta­tion process lead­ing to the for­mu­la­tion of our pol­icy doc­u­ment A Pol­icy for Re­tail­ers, this was one of the key con­cerns which lo­cal re­tail­ers have ex­pressed with us.”

Mr Grech said that his main con­cern is that the con­cen­tra­tion of power un­der the re­mit of the OPM. He also warned against po­lit­i­cal and ad­min­is­tra­tive in­ter­fer­ence.

The PN MP said that according to the pro­posal, the Co­or­di­nat­ing Of­fice can­not give di­rec­tions on re­sults/con­clu­sions of the in­spec­tions, but it then goes on to say that it can still do that “in so far as may be nec­es­sary for cor­rec­tive pur­poses if that in­spec­tion is car­ried out in con­tra­ven­tion of the di­rec­tions or stan­dards is­sued by the Of­fice.”

“This is con­sid­ered to fly straight in the face of the in­de­pen­dence of the in­di­vid­ual au­thor­i­ties”, Mr Grech told Par­lia­ment.

Re­fer­ring to the var­i­ous au­thor­i­ties in­cluded in this unit, Mr Grech said that it is in­ex­pli­ca­ble how seem­ingly in­de­pen­dent au­thor­i­ties are now sub­ject­ing their in­spec­torate func­tions to a ‘co­or­di­nat­ing of­fice’ within the OPM.

He also crit­i­cized the fact that there is no in­de­pen­dent su­per­vi­sory board to over­see the pow­ers of the of­fice.

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