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