Leader of the Opposition Bishop Joseph Atherley on Friday lambasted the Government for paying out close to $47 million dollars in fees to consultants.
He opposed the House of Assembly Standing Finance Committee’s approval of a $314,000 supplementary for technical assistance consultancy fees for the Government’s senior economic advisor Dr Kevin Greenidge.
Atherley, who had earlier agreed to a $840,000 pay-out to consultants who are helping Government comply with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) guidelines, strongly objected to the supplementary to the Estimates for Dr Greenidge, a Barbadian economist on secondment from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The Opposition Leader said: “This Government criticised the last administration for the multiple millions spent on consultancy fees which was about $20 million or so and has gone upward to $47 million in consultancy fees.
“We just finished debating a resolution which spoke to the payment of $840 000 in fees and I supported that one. When these people are taken on the people of Barbados aren’t even sure what they are doing.”
He added: “I don’t have a problem with Dr Greenidge, he seems to be a brilliant Barbadian. The brief interactions I have had with him suggested that he is a fine young man. I do have to come to the conclusion that he does not always understand all the political nuances operating around him in terms of policy decisions.”
Yet, the St Michael West MP said he strongly objected to the amount and declared the money was not justified.
He said: “$314,000 for one consultant for the next year and in making the presentation we say it is a simple and straightforward matter; no it isn’t so simple and straightforward. I think the cost must be justified.”
He pointed out that Government cannot appear to be saving one way and spending in another.
“We just fired four of them because the Cabinet could not carry the costs; four Government ministers and a parliamentary secretary,” Bishop Atherley said. “You come in here and you are asking the Parliament of Barbados to vote for money towards this cause.”
“I am saying you can’t start by saying it is a simple and straightforward matter in a context where you fired four ministers to cut cost, in a context where Government’s purse is seriously constrained, in a context where thousands of Barbadians are out of work and where more are predicted to lose their jobs if you listen to the voice of the head of the private sector and the head of the Central Bank.”
And although he did not object to the earlier supplementary, to cover the fees of a consultancy contract between the Government and the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists, Atherley still commented on the amount that was approved.
“These folks are going to be getting what $840 000, that is a lot of money. One would have to wonder how far you are going to be taking this matter. This money will cover a certain period but are there further payments to be made? And for how long a period do we expect to be involved in this arrangement with this consultant,” the Opposition Leader said.