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Premier’s Swiss trip cost more than $13,000, ministerial travel calendar entry shows

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

A trip by David Burt, the Premier, to Switzerland to attend a crypto conference cost more than $13,000.

The Premier attended the Crypto Finance Conference from January 11 to 15 and a post on the ministerial travel calendar stated: “Growing and diversifying Bermuda's economy is the Government's No 1 priority and every opportunity must be taken to develop the fintech sector which represents a unique chance for Bermuda to pivot from the challenges of the pandemic into greater economic growth in 2022 and beyond.

“The attendance at this prestigious invite-only conference was an excellent platform for the Premier to promote Bermuda’s digital asset industry.

“Meetings have resulted in additional digital asset applications being submitted to the [Bermuda Monetary Authority] for licensing under Bermuda’s world-leading digital asset regime.”

In total, the five-day trip cost taxpayers $13,505. A breakdown of the bill for the visit to St Moritz shows that accommodation costs came to $6,583.77.

Air travel costs posted on the government travel calendar were $3,620.70, and ground transportation payments were not far behind on $3,036.12, while meals were valued at $265.04.

Mr Burt has yet to declare costs for three other trips — to the US, Barbados and London.

This comes despite a government pledge that it would “continuously” update information on ministerial expenses overseas via the travel calendar.

St Moritz

In April, the Premier was in the US and attended a gathering of the Risk and Insurance Management Society — now known as Riskworld.

Also in April, Mr Burt was at the Caribbean Financial Access Roundtable held in Barbados.

The conference discussed money laundering and banking issues that unfairly target small islands.

The Premier was in London in June with a Bermuda Business Development Agency delegation, which met major players in reinsurance such as Lloyd’s.

Former One Bermuda Alliance finance minister Bob Richards dismissed the Premier’s presence at the Barbados meeting, describing him as being a “photo-op attendee”.

A five-day trip by transport minister Lawrence Scott to Miami in April cost $4,058.37.

The visit to the SeaTrade Cruise Global event saw Mr Scott have meetings with cruise lines “in order to promote Bermuda as a cruise destination and to build Bermuda's small-ship luxury product for St George's and Hamilton”, according to the Government.

Costs broke down as $1,969.58 for accommodation, $831.78 for ground transportation, $815.60 for air travel, and $441.41 for meals.

A six-day visit to Kingston, Jamaica, by sports minister Ernest Peets came in at $2,704.19.

The minister was there in April to attend the Carifta Games, and costs amounted to $1,253.80 for air travel, $971.76 for accommodation, $234.58 for meals, $60 for ground transportation, and $184.05 for miscellaneous.

The Government promised the register of travel costs 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 historical 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."

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Published July 12, 2022 at 7:48 am (Updated July 12, 2022 at 7:32 am)

Premier’s Swiss trip cost more than $13,000, ministerial travel calendar entry shows

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