Government: $1,875-an-hour consultant hired for advice on hotel debt
A finance ministry consultant who was hired for $1,875 an hour provided advice about the proposed restructuring of debt related to the Fairmont Southampton, the Government has said.
Michael Bond was named earlier in the House of Assembly by David Burt, but there was no information about the total amount he earned for the work.
The consultant was among about 70 people or companies hired with approval from the Head of the Public Service since January 1, 2022, and listed by the Premier in response to parliamentary questions.
MPs heard this month that Mr Bond was recorded as “strategic adviser Southampton Princess” on $1,875 an hour for the first four months of this year.
A government spokeswoman told The Royal Gazette last week that “contractors were engaged for a short-term period to support the Ministry of Finance”.
She added: “More specifically, the contractors provided general strategic and business advice to the Government in connection with the proposed restructuring of certain debt obligations related to Fairmont Southampton Princess, and the provision of certain credit support by the Government.”
The Gazette asked how much Mr Bond was paid over the four-month period and for more information about the proposed restructuring of debt, but those questions were not answered by the time of publication.
It was highlighted earlier by the spokeswoman that provisions were made to allow for the appointment of people or companies “in specialised fields to provide temporary consultancy services”.
She said: “All the requisite rules and procedures were followed by the Public Service to approve the positions shared in answer to parliamentary questions on May 19, 2023.
“As stated by premier David Burt in the House of Assembly, these provisions are set out under Financial Instructions 10.5.”
MPs also heard then that permission was given by the Head of the Public Service for an agronomist at a rate of $10,000 a month, although at the time it was said that no consultant had been decided.
The government spokeswoman said last week that Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, “provided a ministerial statement dated February 27, 2023 titled Introducing the Integrated Agriculture Strategy, in which he outlined the strategy and named the contractor agronomist, Stewart Swanson, who is integral to its success”.
She added: “Mr Swanson started April 1, 2023 and is on a three-year contract.”
Mr Roban said in February that the “seasoned consultant agronomist” was hired to support farmers with the identification and prevention of infield diseases as well as soil health and management and seed selection.
His work was also to include help to secure materials and supplies for the agriculture industry, assistance with the use of pesticides and help to develop “industry and grading standards”.
The Gazette asked why one of the consultants was paid in British pound sterling, after Mr Burt said Laura Robinson, a psychologist, was hired for £160 (about $173) an hour from April 1 to July 31.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Court Services said the department "contracted Dr Robinson's assistance for specific vital clinical purposes while recruitment is concluded for the post“.
She added: “As a former employee, Dr Robinson is familiar with the department and its operations.
“She has assisted with clinical supervision and training in sustaining clinical standards and practices necessary for the programmes teams and specialist treatment court programmes.
“Payment is now in GBPs; it was BDA dollars before Dr Robinson, a qualified Bermudian forensic psychologist, took residence in Britain.”
• To read the Financial Instructions where provision is made for consultants, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.
• UPDATE: this story made been amended to remove any perceived connection between consultant Pat Philip-Fairn and the Fairmont Southampton project. Ms Philip-Fairn was hired to provide advice on money-laundering and terrorist-financing matters only. We apologise for any confusion this may have caused