Questions are being asked in the States today about the 'alleged' pay-offs to two top Civil Servants, reportedly totalling £800,000. The amount of secrecy surrounding this subject is both outstanding and cannot help but raise suspicion. Just a few minutes ago, something quite bizarre happened. The Chief Minister, one of a handful of people who actually knows the full facts of these pay-offs said that these were 'alleged golden handshakes', but himself would not let us know whether they were or were not 'golden handshakes.'
|Deputy Pitman is one of the States Members |
asking a question about the 'Golden Handshakes' to top Civil Servants
Deputy Pitman will shortly be asking a question: 'Will the Chief Minister clarify the exact sums paid as ' golden handshakes' to two civil servants, clarify who was paid which sum and explain why such large payments were considered justified?'
Of course, none of these questions will be answered, but at least they are being asked. The Treasury Minister has already said such details would only be released in 'exceptional circumstances'.
I would argue that Jersey IS in exceptional circumstances. Public confidence in the States' ability to spend taxpayers money in an effective and accountable way is at an all time low. Add this to a vicious austerity programme that is being pushed through, with cuts to frontline services (we are even charging patients for bandages now!), I would say these ARE exceptional circumstances.
The current Strategic Plan, the document which - in the absence of party politics - sets out the underlying political philosophy to be pursued by the States until 2012 - has many references to transparency:
On page 7, we find the words –
‘By working openly and inclusively with all sectors of our community we will:
create a responsive government […] which embraces a progressive culture of openness, transparency and accountability to the public.’
On page 32 there is a similar pledge –
‘We will work to improve the public trust in government and establish a
system of greater transparency, public participation, and collaboration to
strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in
Sadly, it seems that these are simply words. When it comes to real transparency, there is little appetite for the type of open government alluded to here.
*Alleged £800,000 pay-offs