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Pm Defends Increase In Travel Budget

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.

By LEANDRA ROLLE

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday defended the government's decision to increase its travel benefits for Cabinet ministers and their spouses.

He insisted that records would show that officials' spouses have not been taking advantage of the benefits.

"…You check the records and you would find that I don't think one Cabinet minister's spouse has taken advantage of that," he told reporters yesterday.

"And you would find, in most instances, that Cabinet ministers travel by themselves and not only that but what you don't know is on many occasions Cabinet ministers, including myself, travel with insufficient funds and use my own credit card to pay government's bills.

"That happens regularly so we always have to travel with our own cash and our own credit card."

Dr Minnis made the statement yesterday at a press conference at Sir Lynden International Airport following his trip to Barbados to attend a CARICOM meeting.

The new travel policy, which was implemented by Cabinet last year, allows for ministers' spouses to go on additional trips, including a $100 daily per diem. The policy also increases ministerial per diem from $80 to $100 per day for domestic travel and $150 to $250 for international travel.

Further defending the move yesterday, Dr Minnis recalled when he "almost" called Jamaica for assistance to pay the country's travel bill.

"...I was placed in an embarrassing situation as prime minister of the country when I travelled to Brussels only to discover that they did not accept cash. They did not accept swipe card. You needed a chip. I had to borrow a card from someone else to pay a bill.

"And we had an ambassador in the same situation and could not pay bills and I was almost pressured, (and) I was to a point, where the ambassador was in a compromised position. I was about to call Jamaica for assistance to pay our bills and you worried about $100?"

This is not the first time a Cabinet minister has defended the government for increasing its travel expenses.

Last year, Health Minister Dr Duane Sands defended the administration's decision to increase its travel budget by $4 million in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

His comments came amidst criticism from the Progressive Liberal Party that called the move a wrong decision and a badly timed one.

"And now the discussion starts...about how can we spend $10 for this and $5 for that.. I think this is the beauty of democracy that you are able to have an impassioned discussion about facts," Dr Sands told reporters.

"The facts are there and we want to stand on our record…we have been as open and as transparent as possible and people will dissect information, which is now available."

While in opposition, the Free National Movement frequently criticised the Christie administration's travel expenditure.

Although Dr Minnis agreed in 2017 to release a detailed breakdown of the travel expenses of all Cabinet ministers, the administration has not followed through on his pledge.

Comments

TalRussell 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Sadly the colony's comrade PM had travel overseas discover some don't have to kiss the Imperialists ring and we all know the whom be's among the politically elected and puppet appointments back home in Out Islands that we speak of and about? Can't write this.Just, can't.

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BahamaPundit 1 month, 2 weeks ago

This is terrible optics. Minnis should not have raised VAT to an unsustainable break-back level and then increased First Class travel for ministers' wives.

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birdiestrachan 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Oh how the poor and the have not wept and moaned when they found out the PM had to spend his money on himself. he was reimbursed.

The masterful liar, the mealy mouth, the cry baby.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month, 2 weeks ago

And just think for a moment. If the corrupt Minnis-led FNM government cannot manage a simple system of frugal policies and procedures for the incurrence and payment/reimbursement of necessary official government-related travel costs, then how on earth can Minnis and his fellow cabinet ministers possibly be properly managing the economic affairs of our entire country.

And @BahamaPundit is right - the optics here could not be worse. The corrupt Minnis-led FNM government is constantly complaining that they do not have the financial resources needed to address all of the very serious shortcomings in our dysfunctional public education system and our failing public healthcare system. Yet they can always find the financial resources for their political elite to travel abroad with their spouses to attend many meaningless conferences and events sponsored by their overly privileged counterparts in other countries and by various international organizations that are choc-a-bloc full of useless globalist bureaucrats.

By increasing the government travel allowances as he has done, Minnis has once again revealed just how arrogant and nasty he really is. Caring for or about the vast majority of Bahamians is at the bottom of his list of priorities, if on the list at all.

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sealice 1 month, 2 weeks ago

I guess he saw the PLP did it and it wasn't justified so he did it to??

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