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We Are All Within Travel Budget, Promises Minnis

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Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis. Photo: Terrel W. Carey Sr/Tribune staff

By MORGAN ADDERLEY

Tribune Staff Reporter

madderley@tribunemedia.net

PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday could not specify when his administration will release a report detailing officials’ travel expenditure, but vowed all ministers have stayed within their allotted travel budget.

Dr Minnis made these comments after delivering the keynote address at the 2019 Bahamas Business Outlook forum.

When asked by reporters when the public could expect this long-promised report, Dr Minnis evaded the question but maintained his government’s commitment to transparency.

“I couldn’t answer that right now,” the prime minister said. “But we are very transparent.

“When I travel, you all know exactly who accompany me, so you basically know the cost, and the ministers likewise. What I can say is that travel is a budgeted item and every minister has stayed within the budgeted item.

“So if you review the budget, you would know how much has been allotted for travel and therefore you can automatically conclude that we have spent less than what is there. So you got your answer.”

When asked if it is therefore unclear when the report will be made available, Dr Minnis said again referenced the budget.

“We can give more, but if you look at the monies allotted for travel, you automatically know what the government is spending. It’s there, in black and white.”

Last May, Press Secretary Anthony Newbold said the Minnis administration’s promised ‘travel spreadsheets’ would not be released before the end of 2018.

Mr Newbold said the spreadsheets - expected to lay out travel dates, locations, delegation size, expenses and purpose of trip - could not be compiled and disseminated in 2018 due to the extensive nature of the proposed documents.

Despite the lengthy delay in releasing the information, Mr Newbold has said the government remains in line with its travel policy for officials, insisting that anyone travelling on government business must still file a report.

When asked directly why the reports would take such a long time, he added: “You are talking about travel for all the ministers and you want explanations. You don’t want to just know he went to Washington DC, this is why he went to Washington DC, these are the people he took with him, this was the objective and this is what the Bahamian people will come to expect.

“All of that needs to be, and he has promised that for all the ministers,” he added.

While in opposition, the Minnis-led Free National Movement criticised the Christie administration for what it termed, “wasteful expenditure” for travel allocations.

Throughout that term, the FNM slammed the Christie administration for both the frequency of trips and the size of the delegations.

When elected in 2017, the Minnis administration promised to curtail government spending on travel and give the public a full accounting of every trip executed.

In September 2018, Pineridge MP Frederick McAlpine criticised his own party for the trips made by officials.

Shortly after, in October, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Renward Wells defended this travel, saying sometimes conducting the nation’s business requires going to other countries.

Mr Wells added what differentiates this administration’s travel from the Christie administration’s travel is purpose and transparency.

In early 2018, Dr Minnis tabled a document in Parliament which showed his prior trip to Texas to drum up investment and promote the country overseas cost taxpayers nearly $40,000.

The document was tabled after he promised to be transparent about the costs associated with high-level government travel. According to the document, the four-day trip in January 2018 for Dr Minnis and his delegation cost $37,181.76.

Comments

TalRussell 5 months, 4 weeks ago

Yes or no ma comrades. How is it we beloved Queen has not yet concluded we/her colony of out islands reached constitutional crisis. Yes or no?

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Economist 5 months, 4 weeks ago

Tal, with respect, under the Constitution, the Queen sits in her capacity as Queen of The Bahamas an independent nation only. She is also Queen of Canada.

Her position as Queen is the same as you being a director or president of several different companies, yet none are related.

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TalRussell 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Yes or no. Ma comrade Economist, I begs differ. I been blogging for over a year tis only so far a Commonwealth government (Imperial red shirts) can/should test constitutionality power reach we beloved darling Queen Liz, and Australia's Queen is same as we's Queen - yes, no...... Then how come in 1975 when Australia had a government shutdown, Her Majesty FIRED the PM, all crown members cabinet and all rest MP's in Parliament?

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Economist 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Tal, I am familiar with the 1975 situation. The GG, who we know is appointed by the Australian government was the one who took the action. This was done on the advice of Australian legal and political experts. Queen Liz was, no doubt notified of what had been decided.

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bogart 5 months, 4 weeks ago

Travel budget........ALL DA POLITOCIAMS....SEEMS NO MATTER WHICH SIDE.....quite puzzling seems to think that these things must be at the minimums....like bare essentials....ON DA CONTRARY YINNA HAS TO DRESS TO IMPRESS....DA WAY YINNA EXPECTS DA OTHER SIDE TO TRAVEL IS LIKE ON BIPLANE....TOTING YINNA LUGGAGE.....NEWS FLASH...,!!!!!!! Banker an an crew will tells ya that gojng abroad looking like third world visitors many times is a negative and defeats the purpose of being treated as level players....making successfull negotiations......all deses trips going way back decades travelling on third class tickets dpnt cut it...and can actually harm negate funds spent to achieve ssucvessful outcomes....like throwing money down da drain......small travel butget APPEARANCE...negatine mission outcomes....AS MUCH as I be hesitant to suggest....these missions abroad yall needs to have the state jet...or lease a decent jet ...dassault 5x...bombardier...c.global..cessna citation.......while being frugal and unbending cheap may look good....the other negotiating side looks at all these tings....wid da big boys ya have to dress to impress...otherwise ya only looked on as a third world banana republic....if ya still dont believe go to the airport an watches how an inbestor is treated coming in on regular airline an watches how other is treated landing on his Cessna Citation or 650 true...??..

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buddah17 5 months, 4 weeks ago

With the advent of the computer and associated accounting softwares, it is quite easy to produce spreadsheets and reports on budget and actual expenditures for any given project, event or trip... And it can be done real quick as almost all of the spending are with Credit Cards or cheques.

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TheMadHatter 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Good point, but our Ministry of Finance still uses the abacus.

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TheMadHatter 5 months, 4 weeks ago

"When asked by reporters when the public could expect this long-promised report, ..."

Why should he report to us? We're just yard niggas. If you think more of yourself than that, then you're just fooling yourself - and that's the last person you wanna fool.

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DDK 5 months, 4 weeks ago

LIAR! LIAR! PANTS ON FIRE! To top it off, the PM is indicating Government staff are incapable and incompetent. Any business should be able to produce travel expense reports. The Bahamas Government is no exception. Why does the man not state what his budget is and how much of it has been used?

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ThisIsOurs 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Lol. Whats even more puzzling is the DPM is still pulling the "bad PLP, they used cash basis accounting", " good FNM we're using accrual basis accounting" rabbit out of his magic hat. But everytime theyre faced with a money question its well some bills came in that we werent aware of..they still using that line two years later

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