Cabinet has spent $137,000 on travel
Nearly $25,000 of travel expenses racked up by David Burt, the Premier, have now been published on the Government’s dedicated webpage.
Costs for ten foreign trips he made were added to the site after The Royal Gazette revealed ministers had been failing to keep the information up to date.
Last night, the total overseas travel expenses incurred by Mr Burt since the Progressive Labour Party came to power last July, stood at $46,677.11.
Of those, $24,762.84 were added to the online Travel Calendar over the weekend. It came after a report in The Royal Gazette highlighted that costs for many trips made by ministers were unpublished and a string of new entries were made that same day. A government spokeswoman had said updating the site was “an administrative task” and that it would be completed by the end of last week.
The latest costs published for the Premier include $7,512.13 spent during a visit to London and Berlin spanning the end of November and beginning of December.
Mr Burt attended a Joint Ministerial Conference in the UK before going on to meetings at the German Ministry of Finance ahead of an Economic and Financial Affairs Council gathering “to confirm the European Union’s list of noncooperative jurisdictions for tax”.
His airfares totalled $4,259.70, with $3,224.28 spent on accommodation and $28.15 listed under “miscellaneous”.
A trip to Texas in April brought expenses of $4,402.07 as the Premier led a delegation to the annual Risk and Insurance Management Society conference in San Antonio.
He then joined the Bermuda Business Development Agency for meetings in Dallas.
And in May, Mr Burt was in New York for the Bermuda Executive Forum, where he “delivered remarks and hosted a reception for business leaders”, as well as taking part in a number of media interviews.
His $2,318.19 expenses for that two-day trip included $734.96 on accommodation, with the rest made up of airfare and ground transport.
According to the online calendar yesterday, PLP ministers have spent $137,402.47 on overseas travel since their election win last year.
That compares to the $113,864.29 expenses published in relation to the former One Bermuda Alliance government for its final 12 months in power.
It was during the previous administration that the online travel calendar first went live and it was relaunched by Lovitta Foggo, the Minister for Government Reform, in October.
At the time she said: “The new page contains current and historic information and will be continuously updated as ministers travel overseas.”
Ms Foggo added: “I am committed to full transparency and this page will detail the location and reason for a minister’s international travel together with how much they spent while travelling.”
However, although expenses for some politicians such as Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier and Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs, as well as Jamahl Simmons, the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, seemed to appear in good time, more than a dozen for others were outstanding at the start of last week.
On Tuesday, Mr Burt said: “Ministerial travel is hardly a secret and there is absolutely nothing to hide, but we can and will do a better job of keeping the information on the travel website updated.”
The Premier continued: “Growing and diversifying this economy, creating educational and employment opportunities for Bermudians and reversing four years of OBA neglect of the people has been our priority for almost a year.
“With the hectic pace demanded of this work there have been times that filling out forms and ticking boxes have taken a deserved second place.
“The people of Bermuda fully understand what we have been doing and what we have had to do to ensure that they have greater opportunities for success in this country.”
Mr Burt was yesterday asked for comment but none had been received by press time.
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