Premier Andrew Fahie has dispelled claims that his government’s initiative to introduce ministerial political advisers will cost as much as one million dollars per year.
A cabinet document recently disclosed that the government’s nine advisers are expected to be paid as much as $120,000 annually.
Since then, residents have come out in swift backlash at what they largely felt was an abuse of the public purse by the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) government.
But Fahie, in an interview on JTV’s The Big Story, insisted the figures are not expected to be in the region of $1 million as critics are contending; noting that not all advisers would be on the same salary scale.
Two-tier remuneration system
According to Premier Fahie, persons who will serve in those newly-created posts will function under a two-tier payment system. He said this system will see his three advisers earning between $79,440-$120,000 per year, while advisers for the Deputy Premier, the Cabinet ministers, and the junior ministers will earn $60,408-$84,408 annually.
He said this salary scale is along the line of what most senior public officers currently earn.
The Premier also stated that no new monies were needed for the appointments since funding was expected to be drawn from each minister’s ‘consultancy funds’ allocation.
“So this is not any shallow thinking, so to speak, or any attempt just to piggyback on the public’s purse as has been implied by others,” Fahie argued.
Advisers being appointed to fill deficiency
The Premier explained that the advisers will get government ministers in line to ensure they can carry out the duties and functions of ministries that have expanded significantly over the years; even as the ministries’ resources have not expanded.
According to Fahie, the advisers are not expected to be “involved in [any] political party, per se”, but instead are being put in place to assist this and future governments.
“Overall, there is a deficiency with making sure the needs of the public are served in a more timely manner because of the lack of resources, so it is a way to help the people of the Virgin Islands even more,” he stated.
No need for parliamentary approval
He further argued that the matter does not need to be brought to the House of Assembly since it only dealt with the Cabinet — the executive arm of government.
The post, the Premier expressed, aims to bring more efficiency to the BVI’s residents.
He also reminded persons that there will be an integrity committee in place to ensure value for money was being achieved in the appointments.
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