Tourism or Mater Dei: Johann Buttigieg eyes top jobs

Johann Buttigieg, whose tenure as PA executive chairman ended last week, is eyeing vacant CEO posts at MTA and Mater Dei

Johann Buttigieg left his post as PA executive chairman last Friday
Johann Buttigieg left his post as PA executive chairman last Friday

Fresh pastures lie ahead for the former boss of the Planning Authority.

Johann Buttigieg, whose tenure as PA executive chairman came to an end on Friday, is eyeing the vacant post of the Malta Tourism Authority CEO or that at Mater Dei hospital, this newspaper has learnt.

Sources inside government said the “mutual consent” that led to Buttigieg’s departure from the PA also came with suggestions that he be moved to other high-profile public posts.

Buttigieg’s preference indicates that he is now hedging his bets on the ministerial portfolios occupied by two potential candidates for the Labour leadership: deputy prime minister and health minister Chris Fearne, whose ambition has been clearly spelt out in his image-building campaigns, and tourism minister Konrad Mizzi, who recently canvassed party insiders over his interest in the leadership.

Johann Buttigieg had been at the helm of the Planning Authority since 2013, implementing the Muscat’s administration policy to ‘demerger’ the PA from its environmental arm, as well as implement speedier regularisations for planning illegalities, and devise new planning rules to extend Malta’s development ambitions.

But just a few weeks ago, Buttigieg was faced with criticism from inside government over allegations of sensitive leaks originating from inside the PA over controversial planning permits on specific projects.

Debilitated by his frigid relationship with transport and planning minister Ian Borg, Buttigieg said he would terminate his employment but would consider taking up a high-level post at a government agency – preferably at the MTA or Mater Dei.

“He has been an indispensable key person in reviving the construction industry in Malta, but recent events made it difficult for him to continue in his post. The decision to terminate his role at the Planning Authority was his and his alone,” MaltaToday’s source said.

Buttigieg was appointed CEO of the Planning Authority in 2013, before presiding over its demerger and appointed as its executive chairman.

Buttigieg was earning a basic salary of €83,324, topped up with a €7,000 car allowance, chauffeur, paid fuel and car service, as well as a fully expensed mobile phone and €600 home telephone and internet allowance, and a membership fee in a professional body. Buttigieg was also eligible for a 15% performance bonus at the end of the year that brings his salary up to over €95,000 annually – one of the highest salaries paid to government officials – and a significant 50% bump over his salary back in 2013.

The executive chairperson may only be dismissed by a resolution of the House of Representatives at any time “for a just cause”. The law also specifies that failure to achieve “the targets and objectives set for him by the Minister” amount to a just cause for dismissal.

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