British Virgin Islands

Thursday, Dec 09, 2021

Premier: ‘I could’ve shut my mouth’ on hiring advisers like other Gov'ts

Premier: ‘I could’ve shut my mouth’ on hiring advisers like other Gov'ts

Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1) told his constituents in the First Electoral District on Sunday, September 5, 2021, he could have been silent about hiring ministerial political advisers like past governments in the Virgin Islands.

Since the announcement, the decision has gotten severe criticism from several quarters, including the Opposition, who said the funds could be placed to better use in this COVID-19 era and claimed that it was the government’s way of the people of the Virgin Islands funding its election campaign.

The now-ousted National Democratic Party (NDP) Government, of whom Opposition Leader Honourable Marlon A. Penn (R8) was a part, was known to have hired political advisors and speechwriters on taxpayers money, although they never made it public.

“Just for the record, let me clear that up; we didn’t ask for an extra dime to do that; that was not true,” he said during a live community meeting at Leonora Delville Primary School in Cappoons Bay.

He said the Ministerial Political Advisers would be paid from the consultancy allocations, similar to the UK government system.

Premier Fahie had previously said Ministerial Advisers or Ministerial Aides are not uncommon in Government systems around the world - and that also includes the United Kingdom, where the model for the role was sourced and adapted to the needs of the Virgin Islands.

“You don’t have to take my word for it, just google and bring up budgets; and each budget, the money that is in there, you decide what consultants or consultancy is needed for whatever task given the financial year. All we did was do what was never done before, come and tell you what we doing with most of it. I found out in the last few years that when you are being more than honest about certain things, you get more licks.”

I could’ve been silent


When the decision to hire ministerial advisers was announced, Opposition Leader Hon Marlon A. Penn (R1) sought to give the public the impression that it would be a new expense and that it was unnecessary.

“I could have shut my mouth like all the other governments and don’t say what’s happening, don’t say we are hiring these people and just go and sing Hakuna Mamata along the way and don’t say anything, and it would not have been a big thing; but we came and said out of the funds that were available we are going to take and name three of them at the Premier’s Office for ministerial advisers.”

Premier Fahie said these posts are critical because they would assist in research and many other areas that the public servants are too busy to accomplish on top of their regular work schedule.

Mr Kevin C. Smith aka 'OJ', a former political candidate with the NDP, is the first ministerial adviser hired in the Premier’s Office.

The Premier is allowed to have three advisers, which he intends to utilise, and his other ministers and junior ministers would have one adviser assigned to each of them.

The now ousted National Democratic Party (NDP) Government, of whom Opposition Leader Hon Marlon A. Penn (R8) was a part, was known to have hired political advisors and speechwriters on taxpayers money, although they never made it public.

Mr Kevin C. Smith aka 'OJ', a former political candidate with the NDP, is the first ministerial adviser hired in the Premier’s Office.

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