$1.7M salary for Commissioner of Information; no staff, no office & no accountability
As the Consider of Estimates continued in the Committee of Supply of the National Assembly, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo has clarified that a total of $80M has been allocated under his office for the Office of the Commissioner of Information, Department of Governance and Constitutional reform.
While some $36M has been allocated for the Office of the Commissioner of Information, the Commissioner, Justice Charles Ramson Snr has been operating out of his home and has no staff but receives a monthly salary of $1.7M.
Interestingly, while the PM has the power to engage Justice Ramson, he told the Committee of Supply that for years the Commissioner of Information has failed to meet his statutory obligation.
This office was previously budgeted under the Ministry of the Presidency but now falls under the purview of the OPM, as announced by State Minister, Joseph Harmon yesterday.
On this point, Opposition MP Juan Edghill reasoned that a conflict of interest now exists with this new arrangement.
PM Nagamootoo said the remaining $44M would be used for Governance and Constitutional Reform; however Opposition MP Anil Nandlall pointed out that the allocation for constitutional reform differs from what was stated by the Finance Minister in his Budget presentation.
The PM informed the Committee of Supply that some $40M was also pledged by some organizations to aid the Constitutional Reform process.