Times of Malta, 9 April 2008 by Mark Micallef – The prime minister visited the offices of the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (Mepa) for the first time this afternoon and insisted that the authority needed to become more efficient and transparent and suspicion of conflicts of interest had to be brought to an end once and for all.

Dr Gonzi toured the authority’s offices, addressed the staff and then had a meeting with the board.

He presented the chairman, Andrew Calleja, with a draft code of ethics proposed by the Mepa auditor and invited him to consider it and report back. This code of ethics, he should, would go a long way to ending suspicion about conflicts of interest.

He said that the government would continue the work it started at the end of the last legislature to strengthen Mepa’s law enforcement powers, and that would be one of the priorities in the new parliament.

The authority, he said, already had a level of transparency, but this needed to be improved further, and the concept of a one stop shop also needed to be stronger.

In his address Dr Gonzi said one of the major aspects of the reform that will be enacted at Mepa will be the increased involvement of Civil Society – including residents, NGOs and local councils – in the decision-making process. He encouraged the employees to participate in this reform.

Dr Gonzi, who has assumed ministerial responsibility for Mepa reform, did not take questions from the press during his tour.