[Written by Acting Opposition Leader Trevor Moniz, on behalf of John Barritt, OBA Leader]
What on Earth is going on?
We have a Transport Minister saying a former PLP chairman and hotelier has been hired as a consultant to his Ministry, and then a civil servant contradicting him, saying, in effect, ‘not yet.’
On the same day, the National Security Minister withdraws a statement attacking Senator Michael Dunkley for being ‘misinformed’, then makes a new statement confirming the Senator’s concerns about Police running out of money.
The Government is tripping over itself.
While colleagues will focus on the Police budget controversy, we would like to address the issues raised by the Santucci controversy. What strikes first is the deep contradiction between Mr. Santucci’s ‘appointment’, as described by Transport Minister Terry Lister, and the recent Parliamentary debate on good governance. Frankly, it beggars belief.
Mr. Terry Lister is a long-serving minister, so we have no reason to doubt his original statement, no matter what a senior civil servant says in damage control.
Mr. Lister’s statement provides insight into Government practices that have long raised concern and anger across the community. The hiring of Mr. Santucci – can anyone deny he was in line to become a Transport consultant? – smacks of cronyism.
We support the Government’s recent move to adopt some of our longstanding calls for better governance, but the Santucci controversy indicates just how difficult it will be to change self-serving attitudes that have hurt Bermuda.
The Santucci controversy also contradicts new themes for Ms Cox’s Government, from “re-setting the dials” to “doing more with less”. In these economic times, why is the Government seeking to hire a consultant for work that the Transport Control Department is surely equipped to do?
Just after Mr. Lister broke his news about Mr. Santucci, TCD personnel grumbled about work being handed to someone outside their department.
If Mr. Santucci is hired, some other questions will need answering: What expertise does he bring with him? What are the terms of his appointment and what is he being paid? Why is the work not being done by the people at TCD?
The Premier must step forward and clear the air.
Bermuda does not need more reasons to doubt the integrity of the Government.
- Trevor Moniz