FRIDAY, JULY 27: Union chief Kevin Grant last night defended civil servants — and insisted they should not be penalized because of some corrupt officials.
Mr Grant, president of civil service union BPSU, was speaking after a former top civil servant was jailed for eight years after being found guilty of ripping off the taxpayer to fund a lavish lifestyle.
Mr Grant said: “The ramifications of this trial are far-reaching and, of course, would give many the perception — which is usually a reality to many — of a lack of confidence in the public services.”
But he added: “However, what we must realise is that this incident which has occurred should not take away from the commitment and dedication that is displayed by the majority of public service workers.”
Former Works & Engineering manager Kyril Burrows, an architect, and wife Delcina Bean-Burrows were sentenced to eight and six years in jail respectively for stealing more than $540,000 from the public purse between 2005 and 2009.
They were earlier convicted of all but one of 35 charges after a three-month trial.
During the Supreme Court trial, the jury heard that the couple financed the building of a luxury home in Turkey Hill, St George’s, using taxpayers’ cash and that Kyril Burrows channelled cash to companies controlled by his wife in payment for Government work that was never done.
The pair were ordered to pay back $526,000 to the Government within two years or face an additional two years behind bars.
Mr Grant told us yesterday: “I will be the first to admit that there needs to be improvement as far as productivity in some areas within the civil service, however, the unfortunate stereotype that is placed on public sector workers is unfair in many cases.
“The Bermuda Public Services Union is very committed to playing our role to ensure that we empower our members, especially in these times, to be productive in the workplace because we all must realise the importance of job security and the delivery of quality public services.”
Premier and Finance Minister Paula Cox and the head of the Civil Service, Cabinet Secretary Donald Scott, declined to comment on the sentencing.
But both had issued statements after the pair were found guilty in May, with Ms Cox saying that new legislation to enforce the rules and increased oversight of financial transactions in individual Ministries had made a huge difference.
Mr Scott added that the vast majority of Civil Servants were honest and would be “appalled” by the actions of Mr and Mrs Burrows.
Mr Scott added: “Financial impropriety is a distasteful and reprehensible matter that can have a devastating effect on an organization. It sometimes can tarnish the image and reputation of the entire organization.”
Financial Secretary Anthony Manders said said that Financial Instructions laid out clear rules on the use of taxpayers’ money.
But he signalled that the Financial Instructions and “wider financial governance protocols” would be reviewed in light of the Burrows case.
And he pointed to good governance legislation introduced by Ms Cox and a risk assessment of Government to identify potential problems in advance, as well as a beefed-up Accountant General’s Office to improve accounting and control of public money.