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OBA decries $60,000 ‘efficiency’ payment

Handed in: a year’s work was summed up in a consolidated report for the Efficiency Committee, tabled in the House of Assembly

The Member of Parliament in charge of a committee set up to save Government cash and improve efficiency was paid $5,000 a month for a year, the House of Assembly heard yesterday.

Wayne Furbert, made the Cabinet Office minister in April after a stint as junior finance minister, netted the $60,000 for his role as chairman of the Efficiency Committee.

Other members were paid $2,000 a month.

Craig Cannonier, the Leader of the Opposition, criticised Mr Furbert’s extra salary.

He told The Royal Gazette: “I take note it’s a former United Bermuda Party member receiving this and I wonder how the rest of the back bench feels.

“They have to be questioning what the Premier is doing with these kinds of appointments.

Mr Cannonier added: “We have a sitting minister who at the time was junior minister, but a minister all the same.

“While receiving a junior minister’s salary he has been appointed to this committee and it was not made transparent. We found out through questioning.”

Mr Cannonier added: “Had the One Bermuda Alliance taken a junior minister and paid them this, we would have heard a lot of people screaming ‘conflict of interest’. But this government feels it’s OK.”

Mr Furbert revealed his paycheque for the committee work after questions from Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the shadow health minister.

Mr Furbert told The Royal Gazette: “This is nothing new.

“I come with expertise. I am a certified public accountant, and I can ask questions because of my training that allow me to get things done.

“We met 32 times as a committee, but I was working continuously on it, on a daily basis.

“The taxpayer has achieved significant returns on the work.”

Mr Furbert earned a total of $67,410 as a junior minister, which rose to $156,864 when he became Cabinet Officer minister, according to the Bermuda Parliament website.

Mr Furbert earlier told MPs that more than $12 million had been recouped by the committee, which sat 32 times in the year ended on March 31.

He added among reviews included the Office of the Tax Commissioner, the Registrar of Companies, Social Insurance, and the Office of Project Management and Procurement. Mr Furbert said the Tax Commissioner’s Office had an $8 million backlog in stamp duty, staffing and IT that there were “significant deficiencies”.

Mr Furbert said another problem was the processing of alien licences for the purchase of Bermuda property, which the committee had recommended should be automated.

Mr Furbert added: “Further discussions with realtors led to a more progressive way of calculating leases.”

He said the committee made 93 recommendations, 24 of them for “immediate change”.

He was speaking as a report on the committee’s work was tabled in the House.

Mr Furbert said the committee had cost a total of about $130,000 and provided value for money.

Michael Dunkley of the OBA questioned during the motion to adjourn why Mr Furbert was paid $60,000 for his work on the committee.

He added: “While the people of Bermuda struggle, while we discuss a living wage, while we discuss the cost of living, while we realise that there are brothers and sisters out there in our community that are finding it hard to make ends meet and find it hard to get a job, we learn that somebody is paid $60,000 to sit on a committee and do the work that is expected to be done anyway.

“I would ask the Honourable Premier to identify all extra payments to members who sit on committees because the public has a right to know.”

A copy of the Efficiency Committee’s report is attached to this webpage under the heading of Related Media