FOREIGN Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell has denied that his ministry has spent over $1.5 million on travel since he took office in 2012.
Speaking at a College of the Bahamas lecture on Foreign Policy and Trade Issues, Mr Mitchell outlined that as Minister of Foreign Affairs he is also not supplied with $10,000 cash whenever he travelled.
These “idle” and “silly” debates, he said, over the cost of his work as the Minister of Foreign Affairs is “stupidity in its purest form.”
“No, the Prime Minister did not take a Bahamasair jet to fly to New York for the UN address. No there has been no excess expenditure on travel at all. No, the reception at the United Nations did not cost $60,000 or anything near that figure. Everything within budget. So the whole thing is just one lie after the next which is being done for political purposes,” Mr Mitchell said.
Referring to how his party was outmanoeuvred politically during the Caribbean Single Market and Economy debate in 2006, Mr Mitchell said he is convinced that when it comes to campaigns such as the much debated Value Added Tax (VAT), “consultation is not the way to go.”
“The government has been elected to govern and should do so, making the hard choices to move the country ahead, not looking left or right. If we do not act on this and so many other matters of national importance, the country will be set back and the programmes delayed to the detriment of the people of the country,” he added.
Touching on the theme of the public’s “right to know”, Mr Mitchell noted that there is the need to fix the issue of Bahamian’s attitudes and values in the culture of our country to “make us a faster, quicker, better, leaner machine”.
“We cannot sit here in the Bahamas and believe that the world revolves around us and that the world will come to us. In our recent trips to the Middle East and the Far East, we found out that although many people have heard of the Bahamas that they only had the vaguest idea where the Bahamas is and most people who knew where it is think that we are one of the states of the United States of America. So when we go out to get investment to the country, we have that identity problem to fix, and then we have the issue of what it is that we offer. What we need to be able safely to offer to the world is a well-trained work force; a proactive country with an eye to the future and a government that makes timely decisions that can be executed by the public service without prejudice, corruption or unnecessary bureaucracy in the context of a society that believes in the rule of law,” he said.