Remove €163,000 contract for FMS chief, PN tells government

Carmen Ciantar's pay package is eight times more than a nurse's yearly income, PN deputy leader points out

The Nationalist Party called on government to remove or amend the €163,000 per year contract awarded to Carmen Ciantar, the CEO of Foundation for Medical Services who was also a campaign manager to Health Minister Chris Fearne.

During a press conference on Friday, PN deputy leader David Agius noted that Ciantar’s predecessor used to earn €80,000 in annual income, almost half of what Ciantar earns in the same position.

“Nurses get an average of €20,000. €163,000 could be the pay of eight nurses or teachers. Is the work of eight nurses equivalent to what one chief-of-staff does?” he questioned.  

Paula Mifsud Bonnici, a PN candidate on the first district, argued that the contract is a result of reckless government spending. “The people will end up paying tax on this government’s corruption,” she remarked.

Mifsud Bonnici pledged that a Nationalist government would lower taxes, specifically VAT for restaurants, and would refund those affected by utility bills overcharges.

Alessia Psaila Zammit, a candidate on the seventh and sixth district, added that key sectors have been rife with scandals. “The health and education sectors have seen so many stories of scandals and resignaiton – Vitals and Justyne Caruana were not enough.”

“It’s been nine years since the Labour Party entered into government – they can no longer blame the administration before them for their actions.”

She added that the health sector is already under pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “In a moment where our government needs a Health Minister to focus on health, measures, and an everchanging situation, he must instead respond to these scandals.”

News of a €163,000 salary package for Carmen Ciantar was already enough to trigger outrage. To add insult to injury, the contract was not approved by the finance minister’s permanent secretary.

The salary, arguably one of the highest among political appointees, was handed to Ciantar in 2019. Apart from FMS chief, 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 defended Ciantar’s appointment on Thursday, insisting that she was recruited by the FMS through the same procedure used for every other CEO before here.

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