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Finance Minister says there’s no contradiction on consultants policy

Finance Minister Bob Richards has responded to criticism about the use of politically appointed consultants by Premier Craig Cannonier.

At yesterday’s press conference, he said a review of consultants and contractors in the civil service is being conducted.

“I personally have asked for a list of all of them and gotten a list. I know this list is not complete, so we are looking at the entire civil service and how it is being served by consultants and contractors,” he said.

“We are fully aware that we have been very critical of the government in years gone by about consultants and we intend to reduce the number and cost of them. I can say that without hesitation.”

Mr Richards was asked how he could reconcile his concerns with the fact that the Premier intended to hire three consultants to be paid from the public purse.

“I am talking about the civil service as a whole. You’re talking about the Premier’s office which is a small part of the civil service.”

He said that the Premier’s job is an “extremely difficult” one.

“If he needs assistance, he should get it.”

The One Bermuda Alliance promised during the election campaign to cut down on the use of consultants should it become the Government.

But it has been harshly criticised by the Opposition Progressive Labour Party when it emerged last week that former PLP public relations officer Corey Butterfield had been appointed a special adviser to the Minister of Tourism Development and Transport, Shawn Crockwell.

And Government came in for even more criticism when Premier Craig Cannonier indicated that he will have a retinue of three — a Chief of Staff, an “executive aide” and a press secretary.

According to a policy inherited from the previous administration, Cabinet Ministers can have up to two special advisers with the Premier’s consent.

The Premier is also entitled to staff attached to his office.

Former Premier Ewart Brown was heavily criticised by the then Opposition for his retinue while in office.

Government’s failure to provide full details on the consultant hiring thus far has caused some consternation among supporters of the OBA.

On the party’s official Facebook page, former Senator Toni Daniels has been fielding dozens of comments about Mr Butterfield’s hiring and the Premier’s plans.

Yesterday, she called on the posters to address their concerns to the Ministers directly, and listed the email addresses of each Cabinet Minister.

“I wholeheartedly share your concerns re the installation of Mr. Corey Butterfield by Minister Crockwell and the apparent lack of transparency & accountability and thank-you for the volume of your messages to me,” Ms Daniels wrote.

“I strongly encourage that you additionally address your concerns to (at least) the Premier, the Minister of Finance and Minister Crockwell. I am providing the relevant e-mails for the entire Cabinet for your convenience.”

The Royal Gazette has now learned that Mr Crockwell did not have the Premier’s consent to hire Mr Butterfield, and that his hiring and the attendant public criticism was the source of much debate in Cabinet. Mr Crockwell could not be contacted for comment last night.

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Marc Bean, who is entitled to hire personal staff to be paid by the taxpayer is yet to take on any official staff, according to the Progressive Labour Party.

“The Opposition Leader is aware that the provision exists to allow for administrative staff for support and is currently evaluating whether he will require these resources," the party said in a statement last night.

Minister of Minister of Finance Bob Richards speaks to the media at the A B Media Place in the City Of Hamilton Wednesday during a press conference to discus the current state of Bermudas finances ( Photo by Glenn Tucker )

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Published January 17, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated January 17, 2013 at 12:40 am)

Finance Minister says there’s no contradiction on consultants policy

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