Nationalist MP Franco Debono may have become Lawrence Gonzi’s parliamentary nemesis but, ironically, he is still being paid almost €7,000 annually as the Prime Minister’sparliamentary assistant.

Dr Debono has held the role since March 2010 when Dr Gonzi assigned eight backbenchers to various ministries to spread the workload and keep everyone involved in government. But back in November – after the MP’s crusade against Transport Minister Austin Gatt – Dr Debono publicly declared he had not been at his desk “in months”.

Since then, relations between him and Dr Gonzi have deteriorated. In January, Dr Debono said he had totally lost faith in the Prime Minister and that he should either resign or call an election. This despite the fact that the rules governing the post of parliamentary assistants preclude them from publicly criticising the ministry to which they are assigned.

But in an interview with The Sunday Times today, Dr Gonziconfirmed that Dr Debono was still a parliamentary assistant.

“It’s not about whether Franco (Debono) still assumes the role of parliamentary assistant, it’s about Monday’s vote,” Dr Gonzi said.

Parliamentary assistants are paid €550 per month over and above their normal MP salary, amounting to €6,600 annually.

Dr Debono receives another €550 per month in his position as chairman of a parliamentary committee, in his case, the committee for the Recodification and Consolidation of Laws.

When contacted, Dr Debono confirmed he was still a parliamentary assistant and reiterated the fact that he had not been at his desk for months but said he worked hard to finish his draft law on party financing which was the main task he was given.

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