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PR 01/22 | The 74th General Meeting of the European Council of Civil Engineers convenes in Malta to discuss the challenges of Climate Change

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The 74th General Meeting of the European Council of Civil Engineers convened in Malta this morning. This was the first time this prestigious European federation convened in person since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020. The event was organised with the support of the Ministry for Public Works and Planning.

 

 

 

Opening the general meeting, the ECCE President Engineer Andreas Brandner stated that the COVID and the war in Ukraine have caused serious disruptions to the production and shipping of materials across Europe resulting in significant inflation.

 

Brandner also remarked that the effects of the failure to maintain and upgrade critical European infrastructure, including water, transport and sewage systems, to cut public expenditure is becoming increasingly apparent. The measures that many European governments are now adopting, driven mainly by lobby groups, are resulting in an exorbitant waste of public funds. The ECCE president called for a more holistic approach in this regard.

 

 

Andre Pizzuto, President of the Kamra tal-Periti and host of the four-day event, spoke of the critical role of built environment professionals, and in particular civil engineers in addressing the climate emergency. Pizzuto remarked that “during these past two years, as members of society became more sharply aware of the vulnerability of humanity on this earth, the impetus to address the impending climate emergency gained renewed urgency.”

 

Pizzuto referred to research publications pointing to the fact that “Malta’s energy demand over the next thirty years is projected to grow significantly, as its population continues to also grow at a fast pace. By the end of this decade, buildings will account for over 50% of the energy demand. A further 30% will be consumed for transportation.”

 

“The dominance of cars in Malta, with 6 cars for every 5 inhabitants, further exacerbates the unsustainable energy demand in our country,” he warned.

 

The KTP President called on the European Commission and national governments across Europe to strengthen the engineering profession by affording it the recognition it merits and providing the necessary legislative and regulatory infrastructure for engineers to meet the challenges posed by the climate emergency in a safe and sustainable manner.

 

“Nobody in their right mind would have considered liberalising and lowering standards in the regulation of health professionals during the peak of the health crisis we have just been through. Then why does the Commission think it is appropriate to continue advancing the notion that dropping standards in engineering is appropriate in the midst of this environmental emergency?” he asked.

 

 

In his opening address, Minister for Public Works and Planning, Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi said that the Government, mindful of the challenges affecting the construction sector, mainly where human resource management is concerned, will be introducing new laws aimed at improving regulations in the field including those on the licensing of contractors and improving the skills of all workers in the sector. Once adopted, these laws will boost the quality and standards of the construction industry. The Minister added that it is also vital that a safe development process is also energy efficient and considers the needs of the public, particularly the end consumers. He stated that it is time for the Civil Engineers’ profession to take a more leading role in the planning and design processes. They need also to contribute towards helping the country to reach its net-zero target and climate action programmes. Minister Zrinzo Azzopardi stated that a healthy community in a resilient economy will look at these disruptions as an opportunity for change, a change for the better.

 

 

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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 04/21 | Kamra tal-Periti and OLI – Sistemas Sanitários Establish Collaboration Alliance

The Kamra tal-Periti is delighted to announce the signing of a Partnership Agreement with OLI – Sistemas Sanitários[1] a multi-national company operating in the field of specialised sanitary solutions for innovative building projects.  The Partnership Agreement was signed in March by Perit Ivynne Grixti, Honorary Treasurer of the President of the Kamra tal-Periti and Federica Niboli, Managing Director of OLI – Sistemas Sanitários.

The signing of this agreement forms part of a new strategic direction and business plan embarked upon by the Kamra with a view to increase value to its members in the Architectural Profession.  With this in mind, the Kamra is teaming up with a selected number of leading commercial partners in the building and construction industry with a view to provide value and resources such that the Kamra may play a more effective role with its members and interested stakeholders.

As Partners of the Kamra, OLI – Sistemas Sanitários will benefit from direct exposure with the community of Periti operating in Malta.  In particular, the partner company will have access to KTP social media discussion groups as well as access to events for networking purposes for the purposes of reaching out directly to members of the Profession.   Besides, the Kamra has committed itself to issuing topical fact-sheets to its members on behalf of the Partner to promote their specialised solutions.  Similarly, the Kamra and OLI – Sistemas Sanitários will co-organise specialised training sessions for Periti and their staff on innovative solutions towards water-efficiency.

Speaking at the signing on behalf of OLI – Sistemas Sanitários, Federica Niboli said that the Group is a firm believer in close relations and communications with the architecture profession and this agreement addressed this philosophy.  “We look forward to working closely with the Kamra tal-Periti.  We are certain that the exposure this will give us will result in mutual benefits for the company as well as for the Periti who are set to gain from their exposure to detailed information about the benefits of including our solutions into their future projects”.

KTP President, Andre Pizzuto commented that the Kamra was delighted to form this new alliance with OLI – Sistemas Sanitários.  “We hope that this agreement paves the way for a new approach at the Kamra by which we are able to team up with market players which share our ethos and vision for higher standards and professionalism in the local Construction Industry and in the process enhancing quality of life for the Maltese people both through a finer built environment for Malta.

[1] Background Note on OLI – Sistemas Sanitários

OLI – Sistemas Sanitários, S.A., founded in 1954 in Aveiro, is currently one the European leader in the production of cisterns. A wide range of solutions, such as control plates, in-wall and exposed flushing cisterns, and mechanisms (inlet valves and outlet valves) are sent daily to 80 countries on five continents. OLI flushing cisterns can be found in bathrooms all over the world. A hotel in Malta, an Israeli hospital, a school in Spain, a football stadium in Qatar, a boat Hotel in Peru, or a restaurant in Italy, are just a few examples of landmark projects where OLI products are present. This international recognition is based on innovation, through designing unique technical and user-friendly solutions. OLI´s innovative work has been recognized with several distinctions, namely “Archiproducts Design Awards”, “Good Design”, “Iconic Awards” and “Design Plus”.

Satariano are the official suppliers of OLI.  Over the years Satariano has been entrusted to supply OLI on numerous projects a few of which include:

Malta International Airport, MAPFRE MSV LIFE Offices, Hilton Hotel Malta, Portomaso & Portomaso Business Tower, Portomaso Laguna, MIDI plc, The Westin Dragonara Resort, Eden Cinemas, 14 East, Pender Tower, Dolmen Casino Complex & The Civil Service Sports Club are just a few from their very extensive portfolio.

 

 

 

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Revision of Avoidance of Damage to Third Party Property Regulations – Public Consultation

The Kamra tal-Periti has drafted a revision to LN 136 of 2019 – Avoidance of Damage to Third Party Property Regulations – which seeks to address all the recommendations of the Building Industry Technical Committee’s report dated April 2020 and tabled in Parliament by the Prime Minister on 20th January 2021.

The main features of this redraft include:

  1. The distinction between works specifications and method statements
  2. The revision of the role and qualifications of Site Technical Officers
  3. The elimination of provisions that place periti in positions of conflict of interest by having more than one employer
  4. The distinction between tortious and contractual liability, facilitating immediate compensation of damages to third-parties
  5. The introduction of an equitable system for reimbursement of expenses incurred by third parties in reviewing project documentation

The proposed regulations are intended to be brought into force in the short-term, until more comprehensive and better structured building and construction regulations, and the equivalent of the UK’s Party Wall Act are brought into force.

Members of the profession and the public are welcome to submit their feedback on [email protected] by Friday 30th April 2021 at 6pm.

 

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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 02/21 | Kamra tal-Periti and Vivendo Group Establish Collaboration Alliance

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The Kamra tal-Periti is delighted to announce the signing of a Partnership Agreement with Vivendo Group.

The signing of this agreement forms part of a new strategic direction embarked upon by the Kamra to increase value to its members in the Architectural Profession. The Kamra is teaming up with a selected number of leading partners in the building and construction industry with a view to provide value and resources such that the Kamra may play a more effective role with its members and interested stakeholders.

This collaboration between Vivendo and Kamra tal-Periti is a consolidation of the last few years of strong commitment between the two parties. In this respect, the Vivendo brand will sit side by side with that of the Kamra in each initiative tackled jointly. By providing invaluable resources that are channelled towards the improvement of the built environment in Malta, Vivendo is placing itself at the forefront of supporting the Kamra. By working with Malta’s architects, Vivendo creates spaces that look great and feel great focusing primarily on the furnishing and finishing of office spaces, hotels and gyms.

Vivendo will benefit from direct exposure with the community of Periti operating in Malta.  Similarly, the Kamra and Vivendo will co-organise two specialised training sessions per year for Periti and their staff on innovative trends, products, and materials.

To this end, as part of this agreement, Kamra members will have exclusive access to training and educational webinars, in collaboration with Vivendo’s key partners, including Vitra, Technogym, Rockfon and Frezza, who are at the forefront of international design trends and solutions in the building and interior design industry.

Speaking at the signing on behalf of Vivendo, Christine Gingell, B2B Development Manager said that the Group is a firm believer in close relations and communications with the architecture profession and this agreement addressed this philosophy.  “We look forward to working closely with the Kamra tal-Periti and we are confident that the exposure will result in mutual benefits for the company as well as for the Periti. The architects’ community has always been at the core of our business. With the support of our key brand partners, we will continue to support the architects and the industry with sustainable solutions in executing their design concepts”.

KTP President, Andre Pizzuto commented that the Kamra was delighted to form this new alliance with Vivendo.  “We are confident that this agreement paves the way for a new approach at the Kamra by which we are able to team up with market players which share our ethos and vision for higher standards and professionalism in the local Construction Industry and in the process enhancing quality of life for the Maltese people both through a finer built environment for Malta.

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Press Conference about the BCA Act