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PLP criticise Govt over new consultant

Government has hired Corey Butterfield, once the Progressive Labour Party’s Public Relations Officer, as a consultant.

The Opposition Progressive Labour Party is unimpressed by the development saying the One Bermuda Alliance is off to a “terrible start” in living up to its commitment to reduce government spending.

Mr Butterfield’s title is “Special Adviser and Policy Analyst for the Minister of Tourism Development and Transport” confirmed Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell when contacted by this newspaper yesterday afternoon.

The Minister would not comment on the cost to the taxpayer of having a special adviser.

“Each Minister has the opportunity to have additional professional support,” Mr Crockwell said.

“I’ve hired a very well qualified Bermudian — Mr Corey Butterfield — to provide that professional support.”

The Minister added that Mr Butterfield was hired to assist the Ministry in achieving its policy objectives, but would not be drawn on the details of his work or confirm reports that he had been an election campaign consultant for the One Bermuda Alliance.

“I’ve said as much as I am prepared to say in relation to my hiring of Mr Butterfield. I’m elated to have him and so far he’s provided invaluable support — professional support at that.”

The OBA promised to cut down on the use of Government consultants in the lead up to the general election.

“As a Government that campaigned on 'reducing government spending', the OBA is off to a terrible start,” said the PLP’s Shadow Finance Minister David Burt in a statement released by his party.

“The first day of an OBA Government gave Bermuda a larger 13-member Cabinet. Today, we learn that any savings which may have been made by salary reductions have been wiped out as we learn that Government Ministers are now hiring personal consultants.”

Mr Burt went on to say that Mr Crockwell’s refusal to reveal the cost of his consultant and details of the work being done was a “concerning development”.

“I call on the Minister of Finance to let us know where these new funds are being found to hire personal consultants to Government Ministers, especially as he is on record during the campaign as saying that the OBA would, ‘Cut down on the use of consultants by Government.’”

Government is following through on a commitment to reduce ministerial salaries by ten percent — reportedly saving taxpayers $228,000 on the 13 member Cabinet.

But it is unknown how many special advisers the Government has hired so far, what they will be doing and how much they will cost the taxpayer — our queries went unanswered by press time last night.

And the new Tourism Authourity in the works could also cost the taxpayer more. Mr Crockwell said that the Tourism Board is not currently costing government any more than existing boards and members do not even get a stipend for board meetings as is customary.

But he did not rule out TA members being paid out in the future, saying “keep in mind that once the Tourism Authourity is constituted it will regulate its own proceedings.”

For now, he said, “there’s been no demand for money” from David Dodwell, the new head of the Tourism Board.

The former PLP government also made use of special advisers and consultants and were criticised heavily by the then Opposition for doing so.

In 2011, the Finance Ministry spent a total of $3 million on consultants — $2 million on 13 foreign consultants and another $1 million on eight local consultants.

And for fiscal year 2010/11, the former government said that its consultants’ bill came to $44.5 million.

While no announcement has been made, it is understood that the Premier will be appointing a press secretary and former Senator Toni Daniels may also be appointed as a consultant attached to the Cabinet Office.

Mr Butterfield was suspended as the public relations officer of the then ruling Progressive Labour Party in 2001.

He had held the position since the summer of 1998 but the relationship hit rocky ground soon after his employers, the Hardell Group, went public with the details of a row over a Human Rights Commission issue and allegations of misconduct by the Minister.

He was also consulted by the OBA during their election campaign.

Mr Butterfield has two bachelors degrees, one in law and the other in political science. Besides Hardell Group, he has worked for law firm Trott and Duncan and as a consultant for the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation.

While a consultant for BEDC he wrote the report that was utilised to help establish the designation of the Somerset EEZ, drafted affordable housing and development policy for the North Hamilton EEZ and in November 2011, he was announced as an officer for the St George’s Economic Empowerment Zone.

His consultancy, formed in 2007, focused on policy and research, human rights advocacy, and providing strategic plans and advice for companies, NGOS, charities and individuals.

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Published January 10, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated January 09, 2013 at 10:51 pm)

PLP criticise Govt over new consultant

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