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Prime Minister replies: Nonsense!

Prime Minister replies: Nonsense!


“Nonsense! Every single one is value for money.”{{more}}

That’s Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves’ response to Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace, who called for the firing of a number of persons contracted by the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to work in the public service.

The Prime Minister, speaking to Searchlight on Wednesday, said that the contracts were justified and that the contractors are qualified for the posts they held.

“First of all there is nothing new either here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, or in any Caribbean country that persons are given contracts with Government.”

The Prime Minister set out to justify the posts and numbers that were disclosed by Eustace, some of which Gonsalves believes were inflated to generate short term hysteria.

“Sir Vincent (Beache) does a fantastic amount of work in relation to Petro Caribe, and very importantly in the area of National Security.”

“Because Vincent doesn’t have a degree, people underestimate his ability. He has been trained in a number of different areas and his experience and wisdom is just immense.”

With respect to Hans King and Elson Crick, the Prime Minister enquired: “Can you imagine an office of the Prime Minister without proper communication? Proper communication is a function of the political system.”

He indicated that the work of the government must be communicated to the people, and this is done through the Agency for Public Information (API), the Press Secretary (King) and the Communications Consultant (Crick).

In defence of former Commissioner of Police William Harry, the Prime Minister indicated that he was contracted to continue and complete the restructuring of the police force, a process that he has been involved in from the beginning.

“Burns is doing work concerning worker education, and he is involved in several matters with the Ministry of Labor. He recently successfully represented the Government in Jamaica, lobbying for more Vincentian farm workers in Canada.”

Other contractors, the Prime Minister added, were making valuable contributions to the development of the country, and the Prime Minister believes that some of them were underpaid for their work.

“If you take people’s skills in the various areas, when the Government achieves things it’s not purely by accident, and you have to pay people.”

He noted that Eustace himself was Fiscal Advisor for the NDP regime, making over $100,000 a year plus allowances.

He also indicated that the Opposition also receives $100,000 per annum to run their office.

“My salary and allowances as Prime Minister is less than that of CEO’s of some statutory bodies, but I’m not complaining. I never asked for money when I lived in my own house for three years. I never asked and I never received anything.”

Because of their short term and non-pensionable nature, contracts are generally higher than regular salaries.

The government contracts are usually of a three-year duration, and according to Gonsalves, they are closely in line with the salaries of senior public servants.