Prime Minister Robert Abela has washed his hands off responsibility for a controversial €163,000 contract dished out to Foundation for Medical Services CEO and Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne’s chief of staff Carmen Ciantar, telling Lovin Malta that it came before his tenure.
“The contract we are speaking about came before I was appointed Prime Minister. I also followed the comments of the Deputy Prime Minister, who said that there will be a revision [in 2024] and I agree with that,” he said.
@lovinmaltaofficial What do you make of Robert Abela’s answer to the Carmen Ciantar controversy? #fyp #fypmalta #malta #lovinmalta #robertabela #journalist #question ♬ original sound – Lovin Malta
In the wake of revelations over the “irregular” contract, which does not include an extra salary she earns by sitting on the MGA board, Fearne said that the appointment followed established procedure.
Fearne said that the contract will be revised in 2024, which is still two years away and which could end up being forgotten about thanks to Malta’s endless and chaotic political cycle.
The contract, it appears, will not be altered for the time being.
Ciantar, who is one of the closest allies of Fearne, and has helped lead his many campaigns, is currently under fire over the salary, which the National Audit Office has described as irregular.
She also earned an extra government pay while serving on the Malta Gaming Authority’s board of governors. She is not paid for her chief of staff role.
One of Ciantar’s predecessors, Brian St John, had an €80,000 contract, roughly half the amount awarded to Ciantar.
The PN has since called the contract to be scrapped with Ciantar asking the Standards Commissioner to investigate.
Meanwhile, Labour Party figures like One Chairman Jason Micallef have described the episode as “embarrassing for the entire country”.
What do you think of Abela’s statement?