- said monies will come from ‘conservancies of Ministries’
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- Following the announcement by Cabinet that it has granted approval for Ministers and Junior Ministers to be assigned Ministerial Political Advisors and that the position will attract no more than $120,000 per year, there have been criticisms from some members of the public about the expenses to be incurred while some have challenged the need for the positions.
Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) has since addressed some of those concerns, clarifying that the initiative has been in the works for months and that monies for the advisors will be taken from “conservancies of Ministries.”
Honourable Fahie also noted that that the advisors initiative is similar to the United Kingdom model and was discussed with Governor John J. Rankin (CMG), who is also a member of Cabinet, and the office of the Deputy Governor.
No ‘attempt to piggyback on public purse’
According to Cabinet, the Premier would be assigned no more than three advisors and each other Cabinet Minister, and Junior Minister would be assigned no more than one advisor.
“It doesn’t call for any new monies as of right now because the money that exists in each person’s conservancy is what would be used, so this is not any shallow thinking so to speak or any attempt just to piggyback on the public purse, as is being implied by others, but it is getting us in line to ensure that we can carry out the duties and functions of ministries which have expanded significantly over the years but the resources around the ministries have not expanded,” Premier Fahie stated during a phone interview with reporter Cathy O. Richards on JTV’s Big Story on Friday, July 23, 2021.
Expectations great but Ministers’ resources limited
According to the Premier, Ministers are expected to do much more and at the end of the day, the resources around them are quite limited.
Many had calculated the payments for the advisors to total around one million dollars and some critics of the government have started to subtly post on social media what projects could be done for one million dollars, in an attempt to bring controversy to the initiative and to score political points.
According to Honourable Fahie; however, “It is not over a million dollars as being purported,” adding that the positions will allow for the help that is “direly needed” in government.
Initiative ‘aligned’ with UK model- Hon Fahie
He said the initiative “is aligned with what is done in the United Kingdom and this didn’t just come up. This has been in discussion for the last few months well.”
Premier Fahie stressed that there are criteria for the positions that would be strictly followed.
He also said the name initially put forward was ‘Ministerial Advisors’ but there was a suggestion from the Deputy Governor’s office to change the name to ‘Political Advisors, “so we both worked on it and we came in agreement on how the paper should be structured to make sure that what is happening in the United Kingdom is similar to what is happening here, the only difference is the political advisors would not be involved in your political party per se.
“It only has the word political because they would be serving you as an elected official.”
Premier Fahie also explained that there will be two tiers of payments, “First of all, whoever is Premier, it does not have to be myself at this time but it is also dealing with the future, that range is from $79,440 to $120,000, The $120,000 can only be ascertained for those who would be helping the Premier.”
He said the payment range for advisors to the Deputy Premier, Cabinet Ministers and Junior Ministers is between $60,408 and $84,408 per annum.
“So if you divide it up that would give you roughly $7000 and change [monthly] and that is along the line of most senior public officers.”
Premier Fahie reiterated that there is a deficiency with making sure that the needs of the public are served in a timelier manner because of the lack of resources in the various ministries.
“So this would not only benefit the people of the territory now, it will benefit governments of the future,” Premier Fahie posited.