Permanent Secretary in the Premier’s Office Dr Carolyn O’Neal-Morton said the cost cutting measure was not unique to Claude Skelton-Cline's contract.
This third contract for $9,000 a month between Skelton-Cline and the Government of the Virgin Islands was signed on November 26, 2020, and ended on September 17, 2021.
His second contract for 144,000 a year saw him collecting a $12,000 salary between September 18, 2019, to August 17, 2020.
The first contract that he secured months after the VIP administration took office was for $98,000 for a six month period, where he was paid $16,333 every month.
“The fee for consultancy was going to be $9,000 a month. Do you know why the consultant’s fee was reduced from $12,000 a month to $9,000?” Attorney for the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) Mr Bilal M. Rawat asked Permanent Secretary Dr O’Neal-Morton on Tuesday, October 5, 2021, during her evidence to the Commission.
Dr O'Neal-Morton said the reduced salary was a cost-cutting exercise because of the current financial climate.
“I know that was a decision that was made because it was a financial decision to reduce some of our payments because our income was not very good, so we wanted to reduce our expenditure. We did that in other areas as well; this is not unique to this contract, it was done in other contracts as well,” she said.
The VI, as well as the rest of the world’s finances, has been adversely impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr O’Neal-Morton stated that while she could not recall if she or her staff in the Premier’s Office had any input into the contract details, she was aware that the contract was an extension of the previous one.
During his appearance before the CoI on Monday, Skelton-Cline confirmed that he was no longer in the government’s employ and he had given the government reasons why; however, he did not make the reasons public.