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Premier silent on how former OBA MP got temporary civil service job

Premier Craig Cannonier has declined to respond to Opposition concerns about the hiring of former One Bermuda Alliance MP Donte Hunt.

The Community and Cultural Development Ministry confirmed that Mr Hunt has been employed as a temporary relief inspector in the Rent Commissioner’s office until April 30.

But Government would not respond to further questions seeking to know how he was recruited.

Meanwhile, Community and Cultural Development Minister Wayne Scott, whose portfolio covers the Rent Commissioner’s office, insisted that he does not get involved with civil service hirings.

On Thursday, Shadow Community and Cultural Development Minister Michael Weeks issued a statement in response to media reports of Mr Hunt’s hiring suggesting that Government was rewarding its political friends with jobs.

“In Opposition, the One Bermuda Alliance besmirched the reputation of Progressive Labour Party members, supporters and relatives by accusing them of being a part of a corrupt ‘friends and family plan’ at the taxpayers’ expense.

“What a difference an election makes!” Mr Weeks said.

“When the OBA promised the creation of 2000 jobs, most assumed that these jobs would go to average hard working Bermudians first, not to OBA insiders or failed political candidates.

“With the high number of Bermudians seeking jobs, one would have thought they getting them back to work would be a priority instead.

“We call on Premier Cannonier to explain why his promise to reduce the number of consultants is being cast aside.”

This newspaper put Mr Weeks’ comments to the Government and the Premier, along with a number of questions.

“A Ministry of Community and Cultural Development spokesperson confirms Mr Donte Hunt’s employment clarifying that Mr Hunt has been appointed as a temporary relief inspector until 30th April, 2013,” was the response from Government’s Department of Communication and Information.

“The Premier will not be making any comment.”

Contacted directly, Minister Scott said: “The fact of the matter is, yes, he [Mr Hunt] is in fact working as a temporary relief worker.

“Staffing of the civil service is a civil service matter and if there is a question surrounding that it should be referred to the civil service. I don’t hire civil servants. Civil service is independent from me.”

Mr Scott added: “The reality of it is how many temporary relief workers do you have in the civil service and what makes Donte Hunt different from John Smith. He is a private citizen and private citizens occupy civil service posts.”

Mr Scott noted the “perception” that ministerial interference was a “common practice” in the past but steered clear of accusing the former Government of interfering with civil service appointments.

“I will not play that game. I haven’t in the past and I have no intention of playing it in the future,” he said. “All I am saying is I am going to do my best to do the right thing in a clear and open manner.”

Rent Commissioner Eugene Foley was not in his office when we called for clarification yesterday. Inspectors with the Department of Rent Commission receive a full time salary of between $65,879 to $70,827. Government’s last recruitment ad for an Inspector had a closing date of February 27.

Qualifications called for included an Associate’s Degree “preferably in Building Construction, Property Management, Architectural Drafting or Design or an equivalent, with a minimum of three year’s post-graduate work experience” and a “good working knowledge” of relevant legislation.

Inspectors are responsible for collecting data on residential rental properties which would help the Rent Commissioner determine rent increases.

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Published April 13, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 12, 2013 at 11:19 pm)

Premier silent on how former OBA MP got temporary civil service job

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