The government of the Virgin Islands, inclusive of its statutory bodies, expended more than $20 million on consultancy services alone in the last six years.
Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr D Orlando Smith, made that disclosure in the House of Assembly last month.
These monies were spent through four main state-owned agencies — the Ministry of Finance, the Office of the Premier, the BVI Financial Services Commission (FSC), and the National Bank of the Virgin Islands.
Throughout the course of that six-year period, the Smith-led Office of the Premier spent $2,108,014.02 for consultancy services while his Finance Ministry expended $14,336,549.98.
The BVI Financial Services Commission, in the meantime, dumped $3,833,845.66 into consultancies. The state-owned National Bank of the Virgin is Islands only expended $716,608.50, Dr Smith said.
BVI Airways the biggest spend
The single largest expenditure of the total amount spent on consultancies was the $7 million to BVI Airways and its affiliated companies back in 2015. This $7 million sum was for the aforesaid airline to commence direct, nonstop flights between BVI and Miami, USA. These services, however, were never received.
Over the six years, government also paid for consultancies in a number of areas inclusive of marketing and public relations, auditing services, technology services, legislative drafting services, examination services, public finance and financial services consultancy, among a list of other services.
While disclosing the figures to the House, Dr Smith noted that the hiring of consultants is part of the “normal course of business for any organisation”. He said consultancies are done when expert advice and/or skills may be required, or when services are needed that cannot be sourced from within an organisation.
“This government is no exception, and therefore is required to engage such services to ensure efficiency in its operations from time to time,” Dr Smith said.
He was, at the time, answering questions from former Opposition Leader Andrew Fahie who, in recent times, has criticised government for what he suggested was the wasting taxpayer dollars on unnecessary consultancies.
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