Leader of the Opposition Philip ‘Brave’ Davis. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
OPPOSITION Leader Philip “Brave” Davis is questioning the Minnis administration’s decision to hire Algernon Cargill as a consultant for the Ministry of Tourism.
Mr Cargill is the former director of the National Insurance Board. He was fired in 2013 by the Christie administration following an audit by Grant Thornton. The firm determined that bonuses appeared to have been improperly paid to him and it highlighted irregularities in the awarding of certain NIB contracts for various projects.
Mr Cargill dismissed the audit as incomplete and inadequate, suing the government following his firing by alleging that his contract was breached. The Minnis administration settled the dispute out of court this year, paying him $300,000, according to The Nassau Guardian last month. However, the administration has not publicly refuted Grant Thornton’s findings and hasn’t explained what led to the settlement.
Mr Cargill’s new consultancy position was mentioned in a Facebook post Long Island MP Adrian Gibson made on Tuesday. Mr Gibson wrote: “Today, I met with Mr Algernon Cargill. Mr Cargill has been appointed as a consultant with the Ministry of Tourism. He will have oversight of the government’s efforts to build and refurbish national airports.
“We discussed the state of Long Island’s airports; the plans to construct an airport; the outlook for the new airport, namely, the runway, new terminal and a number of related matters. I am pleased to note that it was a very productive discussion.”
It’s not clear how much Mr Cargill is being paid or what his official consultancy position is.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has, in the past, been critical of how much consultants were paid during the Christie administration. He also announced a hiring freeze last year as his government fired hundreds of workers in an attempt to improve the country’s fiscal position. He never officially announced the lift of the hiring freeze.
Last year he tabled the 2015 and 2017 contracts of Sir Baltron Bethel, a former advisor in the Office of the Prime Minister, in the House of Assembly, revealing that Sir Baltron had his contract extended two weeks before the May 10 general election and his salary increased from $140,000 to $200,000. He also tabled contracts of V Theresa Burrows and Cecile Williams-Bethel, two consultants of the National Insurance Board who each made $125,000. Dr Minnis announced he would not honour the contracts, challenging holders of them to take him to court.
“I find it hypocritical for them to complain about the number of consultants we had and they continue to hire consultants,” Mr Davis said when contacted yesterday. “I’d want to see the terms of reference for this hire to see whether or not it’s in keeping with what they have been saying about consultants.”
Mr Davis added that he wonders whether the government has taken Grant Thornton’s audit report into account before entering a contract arrangement with Mr Cargill. Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar could not be reached yesterday to discuss the matter, though he told this newspaper on Wednesday that he will answer questions about it.