Tue | Oct 23, 2018

Hill to pocket $17 million as Shaw's chief adviser - Says gov't posts taken out of 'love for country'

Published:Friday | December 2, 2016 | 12:00 AMJovan Johnson

Aubyn Hill, who will pocket approximately $17 million over three years as the chief technical adviser to Audley Shaw, finance and public service minister, has said, most of his work with the government is voluntary and being done out of "love for country".

Along with his direct influence over government policy, underpinned by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal, Hill also serves as deputy president of the Senate.

He chairs the boards of the National Water Commission and the National Irrigation Commission and is a member of the board of the PetroCaribe Development Fund.

The former banker said he does not get a salary for his role as an ambassador. For his Senate membership, he gets a stipend of $17,000 per sitting. The board memberships also come with stipends.

Hill is one of eight contract officers who were employed to Shaw's office between March and September this year.

According to data received under the Access to Information Act, salaries, which also covered travelling, amounted to $20 million before two special assistants were terminated in July and September.




The chief adviser said his job is to offer technical advice on finance and related issues to Shaw.

"I do lots of other pro bono work. The Ministry of Finance is the only thing that I get a salary for, and I do a lot of other stuff. We come to serve, and that's what we're doing," he said.

"There's a little stipend for a board fee, but that's nothing at all compared to what one does in the private sector. That's not why you're there. You're there to serve."

On why he accepted the positions, he asserted: "At this stage of my life, what am I going to do except trying to give back to my country? I've been writing in The Gleaner for over four, five years - much longer than that. That was also giving back. I'm just changing the location. Rather than at The Gleaner, I now serve the Government," said the banker of 35 years.

The Harvard Business School graduate added: "It is love for country and I have children who are coming through. I have nephews and nieces who are coming through. I have friends who have children who I want to see live in a successful country, and that's why I'm doing it."

Hill chaired the Economic Advisory Council Holness set up while in Opposition. That council came up with the election-winning, but People's National party-mocked, 10-point plan, which included the popular $1.5-million tax break promise.

The promise was varied - split into two, with the second phase to cost $16 billion and to be implemented on April 1, 2017 - after Holness got into office.

The chief adviser said he could not reveal much on how the Government would find the money without imposing new taxes on Jamaicans.

IMF documents have suggested that the additional funds could come from a revised property tax system.

"I'm not in a position to comment on this. It's a work in progress. Clearly, if the IMF says it, there have been discussions with the IMF. So we will leave it at that until we do a lot more work," he said.




Under the three-year contract signed on August 2, Hill will take home $4.5 million in basic salary in addition to $1.2 million for travelling, annually.

Former Commissioner of Taxes Viralee Latibeaudiere is the senior technical adviser to Shaw. Her basic salary is $3.6 million and she receives a travelling allowance of $1.2 million.

Latibeaudiere had lost a court bid to overturn a decision of the previous administration to sack her in 2012 following her appointment in July 2011 under the Bruce Golding administration.

George Planto, a Jamaica Labour Party member who failed in Monday's local government election for the Papine division, is also under a three-year contract worth $1.8 million per year.

Nine contract officers were hired to assist the previous Finance Minister, Dr Peter Phillips. They cost $22.6 million.