Labour MP Glenn Bedingfield has been given another lucrative contract by the government, this time to act as executive chairman of the Cottonera Rehabilitation Committee.
The Sunday Times of Malta has learnt that for this full-time job, which the Labour MP representing Cottonera performs from an office inside the Cospicua local council, Mr Bedingfield is paid over €43,000 a year, apart from the €20,000 honorarium he receives as an MP.
Until last December, the long-time close friend of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was serving in Dr Muscat’s private secretariat on a person-of-trust basis. His job was to coordinate parliamentary questions for the Office of the Prime Minster.
However, since he was elected to Parliament through a casual election in June 2017, Mr Bedingfield’s position was deemed untenable as he could not be tasked any longer with drafting parliamentary questions while he himself was an MP.
His salary has now been transferred to the Justice Ministry.
He is tasked with developing a strategy plan for the regeneration of Cottonera
Asked for information, a ministry spokesman said that his work contract was identical to the one he had as part of Dr Muscat’s secretariat.
Information obtained through a Freedom of Information request shows that the Labour MP’s new position was created just a day after his contract at the OPM came to an end.
As executive chairman of the Cottonera Rehabilitation Committee, Mr Bedingfield receives a salary commensurate with that of an assistant director with the public service together with an overtime allowance of nearly €8,000 a year and a car allowance of €4,658 a year.
His mobile phone bill is also covered by taxpayers.
His contract, signed nearly two months after he actually started his new job, does not stipulate where he has to report for work, to whom and the number of hours requested. He reports directly to the Justice Minister.
He is tasked with developing a strategy plan for the regeneration of Cottonera and to coordinate meetings of the rehabilitation committee, among other duties.
Mr Bedingfield is one of several Labour MPs who have either been put on the government payroll or given lucrative public contracts by Dr Muscat. Article 55(1) (c) of the Constitution lays down that the seat of an MP may become “vacant” if they are engaged on a contract of works with the government, unless exempted by Parliament.
Some legal minds opine that giving government jobs to MPs may be in breach of the Constitution. No one has yet presented a legal challenge.
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