Health Minister Marlon Penn has called for a change of the status quo regarding the way the government does business with consultants in the territory.
Penn was speaking at the time in the House of Assembly during the debate of the Auditor General’s report on the controversial contracts between Claude Skelton Cline and the Andrew Fahie
-led government between 2019-2021.
Auditor General, Sonia Webster concluded in her report that Skelton Cline received over $365,000 from the public purse despite having made no real attempt to deliver anything of value to the government through his various contracts.
Penn argued that Virgin Islanders that have particular skill sets and abilities should have an opportunity to do work with the government but on a merit-based system.
“Going forward, consultancies have to be merit-based. They have to be based on one’s ability to deliver and they have to be measurable,” the Health Minister argued.
“That is why I was fighting in the Opposition to ensure that we got value and we got measurable results for the people of this territory,” Penn said. ”The subsequent reports to come will show that it’s been a cycle of cronyism, a cycle of empowering persons because they could defend and go after the other person to maintain your status quo.”
Penn described the circumstances surrounding Skelton Cline‘s contracts with the government as public funds being mismanaged and pointed to one of the contracts which set out to achieve 1000 jobs in 1000 days where nothing was done.
He further argued that lawmakers should not act now as if they were not there when it happened and insisted that members of the then-Cabinet, who were part of the process that approved the contracts, should be held accountable.
“The reform process has taught us that it cannot be business as usual, and the exposure through a lot of these reports, and the challenges that are going to come forth, says to us that there’s a culture that existed that has to be changed, has to be eroded, has to be nipped in the bud in terms of how we do work and engage and how we handle public funds,“ Penn said.