Government on Thursday tabled in the National Assembly the overseas expenses associated with the travels of Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and his delegation from October 2015 to July 2017, something the Parliamentary Opposition had requested which revealed that it is over $19 million.
In a written response to Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira’s question, the Government said that some US$39,604 including G$11.3 million (19.2M) were spent during that specific period, giving a breakdown of all the conferences, cultural events and diaspora engagements the Prime Minister attended.
The Government was quick to defend the cost of the Prime Minister’s travels, stating that Nagamootoo has made it a matter of principle to participate in events overseas where air fares and accommodation are provided partially or fully by the sponsors, which he has committed to.
However, while providing a breakdown of the Prime Minister’s trip to Argentina for Maurico Macron’s Presidential Inaugural ceremony, the Government did admit that the return fares for that trip were too costly and an inquiry was requested as well as for bookings of alternative cheaper flights in the future.
The Government paid all expenses for the Prime Minister’s attendance at the ceremony in December, 2015 which amounted to US$4,000 plus G$4,087,230. The Prime Minister was accompanied by Director General of the Foreign Affairs Ministry Audrey Waddell from December 9-12, 2015.
The statement also revealed that the Prime Minister was accompanied by his wife Sita Nagamootoo six times during his overseas travels between January, 2016 to May, 2017.
Although airfare and hotel accommodation were sponsored in some cases, the Government paid all miscellaneous costs, out-of-pocket expenses and meals. In some cases contingency allowances were also provided.
Teixeira had asked what were the actual benefits Guyana gained from these overseas trips. She had asked for the costs associated with each overseas trip, including size and members of the delegations, including spouses, and his delegations for the same period to be made public.
Government in response defended the Prime Minister and gave reasons for each of the trip. They were keen to note that the October 2015 Mexico travel had several great benefits.
They said most of the other trips which included Nagamootoo’s attendance to the funerals of the late Trinidadian Prime Minister Patrick Manning and Cuban President Fidel Castro are self-explanatory.