The Nationalist Party has called on the government to remove or amend the €163,000 per year contract given to Carmen Ciantar, the former campaign manager to Health Minister Chris Fearne and CEO of Foundation for Medical Services.
Addressing a press conference on Friday, PN deputy leader David Agius said that Ciantar’s predecessor used to earn €80,000 in annual income, which is half of what Ciantar earns in the same position.
Contrasting it to a nurse’s average of about €20,000, Agius said that Ciantar’s amount could be the pay of eight nurses or teachers.
Paula Mifsud Bonnici, also a PN candidate and for the first district, argued that the contract is a result of ‘reckless government spending.’ She pledged that a Nationalist government would lower taxes, specifically VAT for restaurants, and refund those affected by utility bills overcharges.
Sixth and seventh district candidate Alessia Psaila Zammit, said that key sectors have been rife with scandals. ‘The health and education sectors have seen so many stories of scandals and resignation – Vitals and Justyne Caruana were not enough.’
Adding how the health sector is currently under pressure due to the COVID pandemic, she said that during a moment wherein the health minister must focus on the pandemic, he must instead shift it towards responding with scandals.
The contract was also not approved by the finance minister’s permanent secretary, with the salary, one of the highest among political appointees, being handed to Ciantar in 2019.
The basic salary is €115,000 annually which increases by €5,000 per annum up until €130,000 along with an annual bonus of 20%, a €7,000 car allowance and health insurance. Fearne defended Ciantar’s appointment on Thursday, where he insisted that she was recruited by FMS through the same procedure used for every other CEO before.
Responding to the allegations, Carmen Ciantar herself took to Facebook to categorically deny the ‘false and baseless’ accusations, and revealed that she personally wrote to the Standards Commissioner in order to launch a probe into these allegations.
She said that she is ready to fully cooperate with the commissioner’s research in order for ‘the truth to come out.’