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Efficiency panel pay deemed optional

Paid in full: Wayne Furbert, the Minister for the Cabinet Office (File photograph by Jonathan Bell)

Payments made to members of the Bermuda Government’s efficiency committee were optional, and did not include civil servants.

Wayne Furbert, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, said yesterday that all MPs who sit on government boards and committees were remunerated for their work.

He added: “This is nothing new. It’s been done since time immemorial.”

The report from the nine-member board, chaired by Mr Furbert, was given to Parliament on Friday showing a return of more than $12 million in government revenues.

In response to Opposition questions, the House of Assembly heard that the minister garnered $5,000 per month for the one-year job, while committee members received $2,000 a month.

Edward Ball, the general secretary of the Bermuda Public Services Union, clarified that he had not taken any payment in his role.

Mr Ball said: “I made it clear from Day 1 that I would volunteer to sit on the board. Sometimes you get remuneration, but I did not receive one cent, nor would I accept it.”

He added: “I have served on several boards over the course of 30-plus years. Sometimes there is a stipend, but nothing like $2,000 a month. I cannot speak for anyone else.”

Mr Furbert told The Royal Gazette that civil servants such as Cherie-Lynn Whitter, the Permanent Secretary of Government Reform, received no extra payment.

He said: “They got paid for their regular pay. Mr Ball and others were there representing their organisations.”

Glenn Simmons, representing the Bermuda Industrial Union, said he had found the experience “very helpful”.

He said: “For example, we looked at savings for blue-collar workers’ uniforms.

“We suggested issuing them biennially as opposed to annually. All the different members brought a lot of different knowledge.”

He declined to say whether he had accepted payment.

James Jardine, another committee member, said he had opted to take payment for his work.

Mr Jardine, an independent senator, added: “I didn’t think it was an unreasonable sum. I’m happy to serve on boards for free, but I gave a lot of time.”

Mr Jardine said he had given several hundred hours to Spending and Government Efficiency Commission.

“On this commission, I ended up writing all the reports, which was a lot of work. I also prepared 13 appendices.”

Mr Furbert’s salary for the job drew criticism on Friday from the One Bermuda Alliance.

Mr Jardine said that was “a matter for him and for the Government”, adding: “He spent a lot of time on it personally. I hope that people read the report and that the Government takes on all our recommendations.”

In the House, Mr Furbert said the efficiency committee’s work had cost roughly $130,000.

He said that the millions recovered marked a return on investment of more than 9,130 per cent.

A government spokeswoman said last night said $2,000 per month stipends were also paid to Richard James, and Karamoko Darrel-Dickens, an IT specialist, who was paid for two months at the end of his government service.

The two trade union representatives who served on the board elected not to receive compensation.

She said the efficiency committee “focused on areas where the greatest value could be achieved and made 93 recommendations covering a wide range of departments”.

“This was excellent work, great value for money and resulted in $12 million additional revenue for the people of Bermuda.”

The spokeswoman concluded: “Members of Bermuda government boards and committees are paid; this is not unusual.

“However, public officers who sit on boards are not paid, as they are giving guidance in the context of their jobs.”