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Premier still to declare costs of trips to UK and Switzerland

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David Burt, the Premier (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Taxpayers have still to be told the cost of two trips to Europe by the Premier despite a Government pledge it would “continuously” update information on ministerial expenses overseas.

David Burt attended a meeting of the leaders of the UK Overseas Territories and British ministers in London last November and travelled to Switzerland for a crypto finance conference earlier this month.

The failure to declare how much was spent on the visits came despite Walter Roban, the home affairs minister and Deputy Premier, revealing the $9,000 cost of a trip to the UK at about the same time as Mr Burt’s stay in London.

The money spent on such trips is usually posted on the Travel Calendar section of the Government’s website.

But no entries had been made there since February last year – the early days of the Covid pandemic – before Mr Roban listed his trip.

The Government promised the register would give a rapid insight into how public money was spent by ministers when it was overhauled in 2017.

Lovitta Foggo, then the Cabinet Office minister, said at the relaunch: "I am pleased to reintroduce the minister's travel expenses page on the government website. The new page contains current and historic information and will be continuously updated as ministers travel overseas.

"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."

Mr Burt said that he had made it clear to British ministers in London that he did not expect legislation approved by Bermuda’s Parliament to be refused Royal Assent.

Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier, and Minister of Home Affairs (File photograph)

A move to liberalise cannabis laws is scheduled to go back to the House of Assembly in the next few months – which could spark a conflict with the UK.

Rene Lalgie, the Governor, has made it clear legalisation of cannabis for purposes other than medicinal and scientific use, or some industrial procedures, was not permitted because of the UK’s international obligations.

But Mr Burt has warned that relations between Bermuda and London would be “destroyed” if legislation passed by MPs failed to be given Royal Assent.

Mr Roban spent several days at the COP26 environmental summit in Scotland and later attended official engagements in London.

The bulk of Mr Roban’s expenses – $5,546 – went on air travel, with accommodation costing $3,156 and ground transport $330.

Mr Roban did not claim for any meals during his 12-day visit to the UK, which ended on November 11.

A Government spokesman said last night the Premier’s travel costs were being prepared and would be published when complete.

She added: “The report for the Premier’s travel on Government business to Europe has been compiled and will be published next week.

“The report for the Premier travel on Government business to Switzerland has not yet been compiled and will be published when complete.”