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Government silence on erroneous statement

The Department of Communications has remained tight-lipped over fallout from an erroneous statement that drew the ire last week of Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance.

However, its protocols were said to be under review to head off a repeat of the incident.

The statement, issued last Thursday, incorrectly said that, starting on Monday, a fee would be imposed at a variety of government departments for using a credit card to pay for service.

Calling the mistake “inexcusable”, Mr Dickinson said on Friday that the release had been issued without approval, and that the charges would be applied only to payroll tax payments.

The move had been announced in Mr Dickinson's maiden Budget speech of February 22, when the minister said it was aimed at cutting costs incurred by the Government for credit card charges.

The minister said the incorrect statement had hampered the ministry and created “confusion” for the public, and that he expected the code of conduct for the public services to be applied.

A spokeswoman for the department told The Royal Gazette: “A regrettable error was made and a press release issued without the minister's approval.

“Processes and procedures are being reviewed and reinforced to ensure this type of mistake does not occur again. Beyond this, we will not comment on human resources matters.”

Last night, a former member of staff from the department, who asked not to be identified, said the statement was unlikely to have been sent out without some form of higher approval.

The former communications officer said DCI staff were frequently at odds with the code of conduct; as civil servants that meant they are supposed to be apolitical and avoid having direct contact with ministers of government — when, as speechwriters, such contacts were “tough to avoid”.

Curtis Dickinson (File photograph)

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Published May 08, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated May 08, 2019 at 7:31 am)

Government silence on erroneous statement

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