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Consultant strikes back

Ian Poitier says his fees were cheap
CANDIA DAMES
Managing Editor
candia@nasguard.com

Published: Jun 19, 2017

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The cultural consultant at the heart of what many considered to be stunning revelations made in Parliament last Thursday by Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar has fired back in a lengthy statement, rejecting the assertion that he was paid “outrageous” sums of money for his work and insisting that he has delivered “exceptional value”.

In fact, Ian Poitier said when the full picture is reflected, his fees were “cheap”.

Poitier said he spent more than 30 years living abroad, mostly in London, and returned home in 2014 on the invitation of the Bahamas government the year after he first met then Prime Minister Perry Christie.

He said he performed extensive duties that went way beyond being a “mere cultural consultant”.

While contributing to debate on the budget, D’Aguilar said the consultant — he did not call Poitier’s name — was paid more than $1 million for consulting on culture for the Ministry of Tourism.

He said the consultant was paid more than $400,000 a year.

“I don’t know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but this smells fishy,” D’Aguilar said.

“When asked what this individual produced for the $1 million spent, senior executives at the ministry also agreed that whatever he did produce, it was not in their professional opinion worth $1 million.

“When asked to opine on whether this amount was outrageous, they all agreed that it was.”

Poitier said D’Aguilar’s statements damaged his reputation and “devastated” his family and friends.

“Taken together, the minister’s statements paint a picture which is inaccurate, incomplete and misleading,” he said.

Poitier said he is “an independent person, a private citizen” and will continue to jealously guard and defend his reputation by whatever means necessary.

“Also, I did not hire me,” he said. “If the minister’s quarrel is with the previous administration, then it is regrettable that he did not make that clear. I hope that members of the previous government will issue appropriate statements setting out the facts for the minister.”

Poitier insisted he has not defrauded anyone in the fees he collected for his work. He also admitted he had no signed contract with the Ministry of Tourism, but indicated that was not his fault.

“The broad focus of my work was to research and lay plans to develop the cultural infrastructure,” he explained.

“In order to have a sustainable cultural sector, we need to ensure that the necessary structures and processes are in place, so that our talent, our creative content, our cultural and creative spaces, our creative economy, our cultural diplomacy and our cultural tourism are placed on substantial footing,” he added.

“...My work has the potential to add real value to the Bahamian economy. In the short term, with a focused, strategic effort, the creative industries can add another $100 million to the economy, bridging the gap in tourist spend from cruise ship passengers alone, from $67 per head to approximately $120 per head.

“Longer term, we can grow the revenue to $1 billion by increasing that spend to $200 per head from all tourists.”

Poitier said he will not engage in a discussion regarding his personal finances.

“That said, the minister or his permanent secretary will have the original deal memo, showing that the consultancy would bill for $400,000 per year, and that the consultancy would be responsible for paying the necessary fees to ensure that the work was done,” he said.

Poitier said he was responsible for payments to third parties for all the work they did to support him, as well as all other business expenses.

“I know that for the average person this represents a lot of money, but once you take away the monies I had to pay out to support the work, it made my fee extremely cheap,” Poitier said.

“...I am not ashamed or embarrassed to say that my work was not charged at a premium, but because The Bahamas is my home, I did not charge anywhere near the sums that could be charged.

“It is especially heartbreaking as I know that other consultants have charged full market rates for their work, and yet I am singled out with the suggestion that I have done something wrong.

“As a Bahamian am I worth less than others?”

 

Work

Poitier said over the past two-and-a-half years he has been engaged in writing a cultural development strategy, incorporated into the National Development Plan.

He said he has been involved in other cultural development initiatives, including leading development of a new National Centre for the Performing Arts.

He also said he was a general policy adviser to the prime minister; a writer, producer, choreographer and/or director for national events and productions like the independence celebrations; Exuma Heritage Festival; Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival opening ceremonies and the Prime Minister’s Commonwealth Parliamentary Association dinner.

Poitier also listed international events he was involved in for The Bahamas, including a 10-day cultural festival in Cuba; Caribbean Tourism Week in New York and other events abroad.

He also listed the Cacique Awards, Junkanoo Summer Festival and other local events.

Additionally, he said he was a communications consultant. He listed the matters he consulted in this area, including the “successful outcome of Baha Mar negotiations” and developing a communications strategy for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

Poitier said he provided general counsel and support to the prime minister and ministers.

Additionally, he was chairman of the Clifton Heritage National Park.

“All this I have done,” Poitier said.

“It has been an exhausting time, and as colleagues have observed, it has taken a toll on my health.

“On any assessment, even if only half the output were of reasonable quality, this would be a demonstration that I am confident that I have delivered exceptional value.”

As a result of his experience, Poitier said, it will probably be more difficult to convince Bahamians to come home to use their talents in The Bahamas.

“To be attacked by a minister in Parliament, and then by members of the public, when you have just always tried to do your best, it’s unsettling; an aspect of life in The Bahamas that is not better.”

 


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