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Finance minister’s New York trips cost more than $17,000

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The finance minister spent more than $1,000 a night on hotel bills over a five-day stay in New York, it has been revealed.

Curtis Dickinson, accompanied by an official, spent $8,331 of public funds on the US visit between November 28 and December 2 last year.

Flights cost $1,205, ground transport was $1,141 and accommodation was $5,157.

The cost for meals was $752 and “miscellaneous” expenses amounted to $75.

A description of the trip said Mr Dickinson and the official led Bermuda Business Development Agency representatives and staff from the Bermuda Monetary Authority, the Bermuda Stock Exchange and the private sector to a BDA roadshow on climate risk finance in New York.

It added: “The minister reinforced in the meetings that Bermuda must continue to grow and diversify its economy, noting that opportunities in the climate risk finance space deserved to be a priority focus.”

Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A visit to New York by Mr Dickinson between September 27, and October 1, 2021 cost Bermudians $9,055.70.

The Minister, accompanied by MP Jache Adams, led a delegation of the BDA representatives to a roadshow on "Climate Risk Finance" in New York City, according to the Government website.

Questions the Government has not yet answered

The Royal Gazette has asked the Government to clarify if the costs for Mr Dickinson’s trip beginning on November 28, 2021 apply just to him or also to the Government officials who accompanied him.

We have also asked if the Travel Calendar lists just the expenses for Ministers, or for others as well.

There has been no response

Air travel costs for the visit were $1,152, accommodation was $6,004.41, ground transportation $1,147.97, meals were $451.32, and miscellaneous came in at $300.00.

The website said: “The Minister held a number of high level meetings with some of New York's leading law firms, advisers, and asset managers, highlighting Bermuda's core competitive advantages as a capital for climate risk finance, and a hub for climate tech innovation.

“These firms represent revenues of $3.28 billion, and maintain offices in 54 cities worldwide. The Minister shared with these firms, Government's recent climate and Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) commitments.”

The figures were released as David Burt, the Premier, revealed a trip to the US in December cost $23 – because other costs were paid by the organisers of the conference.

But Mr Burt has still failed to reveal how much a visit to London the month before had cost.

The Premier has posted that a trip to Mexico cost taxpayers $ 2,870.26 between July 24-28, 2021.

The Government website said: “The Satoshi Roundtable is an invite-only event that has been running annually since 2014 to which the Premier received a personal invitation as recognition for Bermuda’s leadership in the fintech space. It attracts leading thinkers, influencers and builders in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space.

“The Premier attended this exclusive event with the then Deputy CEO of the Bermuda Monetary Authority, Craig Swan.

“The meetings at this event have led to additional companies moving to the application process for Digital Asset Business Licences or participation in the BMA’s Innovation Hub.”

Air travel for the event cost $1,136.60, accommodation was $1,324.80, ground transportation came in at $228.80, meals claimed amounted to $25.45, and “miscellaneous” was $154.61.

Despite government claims foreign trips by the Premier and fellow Cabinet Ministers would be “continuously” updated, Mr Burt still has to outline what the people spent on his visits to the British capital in November, and a crypto currency conference in Switzerland in January.

Announcing that a visit to Naperville, Illinois, between December 3 and 5 cost $23.28 in meals, the Government website said the Premier had been invited to a “Future of Finance Summit event hosted in Chicago”.

It added: “Hotel, accommodation and ground transportation were covered by the conference hosts.”

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

Mr 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 last 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.

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."

The Royal Gazette submitted questions on the trip but there was no response by press time.

* This story has been updated to include details of a second trip to New York by the Finance Minister.

Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published February 10, 2022 at 2:31 pm (Updated February 10, 2022 at 2:38 pm)

Finance minister’s New York trips cost more than $17,000

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