Fourteen government CEOs are each pocketing more than €100,000 annually, an analysis of answers tabled in parliament shows.
Most are political appointees, given the position because of their closeness to the ministers who rewarded them with financial packages that are more than twice what they earn, and seven times the average Maltese income (€20,000).
The information analysed by The Shift was based on replies tabled in parliament to questions by PN MP Ivan Castillo. It shows that some are making more than €150,000, despite Prime Minister Robert Abela pledging he would get the situation under control.
The full picture is not yet available because five ministers have not provided the information requested. So far, Ministers Chris Fearne, Aaron Farrugia, Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, Clayton Bartolo and Clyde Caruana have not replied to MP Ivan Castillo’s questions.
Yet it is clear that Carmen Ciantar (Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne’s personal campaign manager), Kurt Farrugia (spokesman for disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat) and Jonathan Cardona top the list of the highest-paid CEOs.
Kurt Farrugia was appointed CEO of Malta Enterprise three years ago with a unique nine-year contract with a pay package building to €180,000 a year. Farrugia had no experience in the sector and left just a few weeks before Muscat’s forced resignation in 2019.
Apart from a staggering €105,000 basic salary, Farrugia has a €5,000 yearly increment, apart from a raft of other perks, to reach €180,000. He was the most expensive government CEO.
Farrugia had announced that he was volunteering a pay cut of €5,000 a year during the pandemic, having to survive on €148,667 a year, apart from the costs of medical insurance for his whole family and the cost-of-living adjustment.
While Fearne seems reluctant to provide the information on his CEOs, The Shift has already revealed that Fearne’s closest political aide and chief lobbyist, Carmen Ciantar was put on a €163,000 package.
The National Audit Office concluded that Ciantar’s contract is “irregular”, but nothing has been done to address the situation with Fearne only pledging to review the contract on its expiration.
Jonathan Cardona, the new CEO of the beleaguered state energy provider, Enemalta, has joined the fray after he was handpicked by Energy Minister Miriam Dalli.
A former CEO of Muscat’s cash-for-passports scheme, Cardona was put on a €146,421 financial package even though he never worked in the energy sector. In the meantime, Enemalta is reportedly registering millions of losses every month.
Others living it up on the backs of taxpayers include former Gzira mayor Roberto Cristiano, until a few years ago an official of the General Workers Union, who takes home a salary of €125,109 plus benefits as the CEO of Engineering Resources Ltd – a company that employs former Enemalta workers made redundant.
Kevin Chircop, who chaired Enemalta in a raft of scandals, was put on a €146,100 package as CEO of Enemed, the company procuring fuel on behalf of the government.
Ismail D’Amato, a former engineer at Enemalta, is getting €121, 225 as CEO of InterConnect Malta, a newly formed government entity overseeing a possible gas pipeline between Malta and Sicily.
Ivan Falzon, a former head of secretariat, is receiving €115,700 plus benefits to manage the Water Services Corporation, while another political appointee, Richard Bilocca, is being paid €122,854 as CEO of Wasteserv, the government agency responsible for waste collection.
Charles Mizzi is pocketing at least €102,409 as CEO of Residency Malta Agency, while Joseph Mizzi, the CEO of Community Malta Agency which is responsible for the cash-for-passports scheme, is being paid €113,358.
The Head of the Malta Gaming Authority, Karl Brincat, is getting more than €110,000 from state coffers, while Renzo Degabriele, CEO of the Active Ageing and Community Care Agency is being paid €104,258. Degabriele is responsible for multi-million-euro direct orders in Private-Public Partnerships with various private homes for the elderly.
MIMCOL CEO Stanley Mifsud receives €12,1835 annually, while the CEO of State-owned Petromal Co Ltd‘s take-home pay is €125,990.
Finance Minister Clyde Caruana is supposed to be conducting a spending review to rein in more than €8.5 billion in debts accumulated by the government over the last years.