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Massive consultants' bill

Published:Wednesday | November 7, 2012 | 12:00 AM

State pays more than $250 million to support staff

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

NINTY-EIGHT consultants have been engaged by the Portia Simpson Miller-led government at a cost of more than $255 million since the administration took power in January.

The information was provided by Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips in response to questions tabled by Opposition MP Audley Shaw.

Several politicians who carry the flag of the governing People's National Party (PNP) are included among the list of consultants.

Among them are Basil Waite, Phyllis Mitchell, Marjorie Taylor, Burchell Whiteman, Delano Franklyn and Lucius Thomas.

The information provided by Phillips also shows that Simpson Miller has employed six fewer consultants than former Prime Minister Bruce Golding. Eighteen persons were employed under Golding, while Simpson Miller's 12 consultants are costing the country $37.8 million.

At the same time, Dr Phillips has 10 consultants employed to the Ministry of Finance at a cost of $25.4 million compared to Shaw who had 11 consultants directly employed in his ministry, and one each to the Customs Department and the Inland Revenue Department. The cost of the consultants under Shaw was $36.2 million.

In 2009, then Prime Minister Bruce Golding reported to Parliament $12.4 million was being paid for consultancy services within his office. That number swelled to $37.9 million by the time the Government left power in 2011.

Simpson Miller had nine consultants in the Office of the Prime Minister when she was at Jamaica House. Jamaica paid $22.7 million to employ them.

The Golding administration paid out at least $190 million to consultants in ministries compared to $127 million for consultancy paid by the previous PNP administration.

In terms of the politicians turned consultants, Whiteman, former ambassador to the United Kingdom, who served as a minister of Government in previous PNP administrations, is being paid $6.29 million.

Whiteman's functions

His functions include preparing position papers and editing briefs, as well as attending high-level meetings on behalf of the prime minister.

Whiteman's salary is slightly above that paid to Franklyn, whose sole shot at representational politics ended in defeat at the hands of Robert Montague in West St Mary in 2007.

Franklyn is being paid $5.79 million to prepare and edit position papers, write speeches for the prime minister to assist with the legislative agenda and deal with diaspora affairs.

Mitchell, who left representational politics after being beaten by Gregory Mair in North East St Catherine in the 2007 general election, is being paid $3.6 million to assist Labour and Social Security Minister Derrick Kellier.

A similar salary is being paid to Waite, who failed to gain the party's nod to contest North East St Elizabeth in the last general election. His job is to assist Local Government Minister Noel Arscott.

Taylor, who left politics over a decade ago and assumed the post of ambassador for children, is being paid $3 million to be a special adviser to Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson. She is tasked with "performing duties aimed at mobilising resources and fostering collaboration with other ministries and with development partners in support of adolescent health."

Thomas, a former commissioner of police, is being paid $4.4 million to be the director of police welfare and advocacy. Once the standard-bearer for the PNP in North West St Ann before illness forced him to pull back, Thomas is now responsible for ensuring that police personnel benefit from the implementation of government policies.