News

Ministers tight-lipped on advisers’ skills

  • David Burt, the Premier

Government ministers were tight-lipped yesterday about the skills and qualifications of consultants and advisers revealed by the Premier.

Requests for comment were sent to the ministry heads identified by David Burt on Monday as using aides.

They were David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs and former minister of transport and regulatory affairs, Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Minister of Legal Affairs, and Jamahl Simmons, the Minister Without Portfolio and former minister of economic development and tourism.

The ministers were asked if they had personally made the selections, why the person was chosen, what work they had performed, and what skills or qualifications they had for the post.

Mr Simmons declined to comment yesterday.

He said: “Please refer to the ministerial statement issued by the Premier.” Mr Burch, Mr Rabain, Mr Roban and Ms Simmons also declined to answer questions.

A spokeswoman for the ministers said: “Please refer to the Premier’s ministerial statement presented in Parliament.”

The list provided to MPs in the House of Assembly named three consultants and three advisers.

Sherri Simmons, a radio talk show host and wife of Jamahl Simmons, has been a consultant to Kathy Lynn Simmons since October last year.

Cheryl-Ann Mapp, who was appointed chairwoman of the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission in 2017, also worked as a consultant for Mr Roban, then transport and regulatory affairs minister, for a large part of last year.

Ms Mapp worked for the minister from January 22 to July 20 and again from August 20 to September 14 with an extension to October 31.

Trina Bean was made a consultant to Mr Burch since September last year.

Corey Butterfield was made an adviser to Mr Simmons, the former minister of economic development and tourism and now Minister Without Portfolio, in September 2017.

Mr Butterfield earlier worked as a special adviser and policy analyst for the Minister of Tourism under the former One Bermuda Alliance government.

Alexa Lightbourne, the Progressive Labour Party’s public relations officer, was appointed an adviser to Mr Roban last May.

Davida Morris, a former PLP senator, was listed as an adviser to Mr Rabain since January.

None of the consultants or advisers responded to requests for comment by press time yesterday.

Mr Burt revealed the list on Monday after parliamentary questions from Michael Dunkley, an OBA backbencher.

The Premier told MPs that the consultants were on the PS36 pay grade, which is $116,317 a year.

He said: “There is no one higher than PS36 for ministerial consultants that are advising ministers in a personal capacity.”

Mr Burt added: “For others that are in the possession of specific expert advice, those ones are graded differently.”

Information supplied later by a government spokeswoman showed that Ms Bean and Ms Morris were paid $63.57 an hour, and Ms Lightbourne earned $58.68 an hour.

She said all three were in full-time posts and required to work 35 hours a week but that health insurance, payroll tax and social insurance expenses were met by the individuals.

The spokeswoman added: “In every case, the hours worked far exceed this minimum 35 hours’ requirement.”

She said Mr Butterfield’s hourly rate was $58.68 and Ms Simmons was paid $57.48 an hour, with each of them in part-time posts and paid for work completed.

The spokeswoman added Ms Mapp’s appointment was not political and was “based on her legal and regulatory compliance expertise”.

Mr Burt told MPs during the motion to adjourn on Monday that $15 million had been budgeted for consultants in the 2019-20 financial year.

He hit back at Opposition claims that the Government had budgeted for $15.9 million on consultants this year — a rise of $3.2 million in two years.

Mr Burt said that “in fact, the OBA budgeted for $17 million in total consultants for 2017-18”.

He added that the Government’s allocation marked a decrease of $2 million in the new financial year, which starts in April.