€163,000 salary for FMS chief not approved by finance permanent secretary

Finance ministry permament secretary says he was not involved in issuance of €163,000 salary for deputy prime minister’s former campaign manager and CEO of the FMS

FMS chief executive Carmen Ciantar
FMS chief executive Carmen Ciantar

Updated at 2:26pm with Chris Fearne comments

A €163,000 salary for the CEO of the Foundation for Medical Services, Carmen Ciantar, was not approved by the finance ministry’s permanent secretary.

The PN’s organ Net News reported comments the permanent secretrary Alfred Camileri on 13 January 2022 in which he said he was “neither involved nor did [he] approve the financial package” in reply to questions from the press.

The salary, arguably one of the highest amongst political appointees, was accorded to Ciantar, also a campaign manager for Fearne’s leadership campaign, back in 2019.

Ciantar is also designated as chief of staff to Chris Fearne, according to the ministerial website.

Ciantar is paid a basic salary of €115,000 annually, which increases by €5,000 per annum up until €130,000, with an annual bonus of 20%, a €7,000 car allowance, and health imsurance.

Ciantar was formerly CEO of the energy and water billing services company ARMS.

Fearne defends Ciantar appointment

On Thursday afternoon, Fearne defended Ciantar’s appointment as CEO during a press conference at St Vincent de Paul.

He insisted she was recruited by the FMS with the same procedure that every other CEO before her was employed.

“There was an audit published by the National Audit Office last December which made recommendations on how to improve the recruitment procedure and we will introduce the changes so that when the existing employment contracts expire the new employees will be recruited as proposed by the NAO,” Fearne said.

When it was pointed out that Ciantar was also chief of staff in his ministry, Fearne said she only received remuneration from the FMS.

He skirted a question as to whether the contract will be rescinded, insisting that just because Ciantar had Labour sympathies should not automatically exclude her from such a position or similar ones on this salary. He insisted the appointment was meritocratic.