MM writes: My knees get weak and I shudder whenever one of our elected representatives come forward and say, “I will be hiring a consultant to…”. My issue with this is that political candidates come forward so boastfully during their campaign attempting to indicate that they, at that very point in time, are the answer to these same issues that they propose to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to get consultations on.
They promise us they know what they are doing and that as soon as we check their name at the polls our entire life and country will be turned around. Why then do we have to spend tens of millions of dollars annually on ministerial policy advice?
You approached your neighbours, your family and friends and stood on a podium in front of your people declaring yourself the saviour of our country and assuring us that you understood our problems, our government, our country and our people inside out. You indicated that you had been observing all the changes and mistakes of previous leaders, you assured us that you understood policy, business, economics and politics as a whole — you convinced your constituents that you were capable of moving this country forward.
Then please tell me why we are spending CI$29,196,777 every year for other people to tell you how to run YOUR country?
On that budget, the government could hire 243 policy advisers on CI$120,000 salaries per annum and each of them would only have to work 0.85 hours per day to equate to the average total number of hours ‘policy advice’ that was provided to our senior officials.
When thoroughly scrutinizing our country’s budget, I could not help but to compile a quick report (yes, took perhaps 4 hours) of every item on the 1,020-page 2016/2017 Government Budget that pertained in some way, shape or form to policy advice compiled on behalf of, and provided to our elected ministers.
Some of the items, of course, included advice to other senior government officials and a tad bit of advice to the governor as well, but at CI$6,226,595 per budget year, the premier’s Ministry of Home Affairs, Health & Culture commands the highest cost of policy advice; however, this ministry also has the largest portfolio of departments and authorities to oversee.
The Minister of Education’s policy advice budget comes in at CI$4,805,329. And the ministry with the lowest ‘policy advice’ budget was Community Affairs and Youth.
For an elected body that put on some well-presented campaign events, convincing speeches and adrenaline-pumping promises, all of this required advice is questionable.
I should imagine running a country is no easy task, but when 2.5% of the government budget is consumed by advice on how to run a country with a population of about 70,000 people, it should raise a few eyebrows.
It should come as no surprise that the ministry with the least devoted budget to policy advice is the Ministry of Community Affairs that oversees departments such as the Department of Children and Family Services, and the Youth Services Unit.