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Ministers fail to report travel expenses

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David Burt, the Premier, attending Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s II’s state funeral in London followed by the signing of Her Majesty’s Book of Condolences (Photograph Supplied by the Bermuda Government London Office)

Taxpayers have still not been told the cost of half-a-dozen trips abroad by David Burt and Cabinet ministers this year despite the Government pledging to “continuously update” the public on the price of such visits.

The Premier has yet to reveal how much his expenses came to when he travelled to London in September for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

The same month, Mr Burt also visited Prague and Brussels for meetings with EU officials and business leaders, but financial details have not been posted on the Travel Calendar section of the Government’s website.

The One Bermuda Alliance expressed alarm at the lack of transparency and called on the Government to clarify the situation as soon as possible.

Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier and home affairs minister, has yet to state the outlay on four of five overseas trips he has made since April.

Mr Roban, who has not posted a cost breakdown of any of his trips for more than a year, has been a frequent visitor abroad on official engagements during 2022.

In April, Mr Roban represented Bermuda at a climate change summit in the Turks and Caicos Islands and later that month attended the Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum in Miami.

Walter Roban, Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The Deputy Premier went to a “blue economy” gathering aimed at securing ocean protection in Lisbon, Portugal in June.

In August, Mr Roban met Caribbean ministers in the Bahamas ahead of the global climate change COP27 summit in Egypt.

And in November, the home affairs minister went to Trinidad and Tobago to take part in a conference exploring the use of environmentally focused funds across the Caribbean region.

While a different section of the Government website states that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change paid for Mr Roban’s travel, accommodation and meals for the Bahamas trip, that information has not appeared on the designated Travel Calendar.

Scott Pearman, the One Bermuda Alliance shadow home affairs minister, expressed concern at the failure to declare the costs of overseas visits.

He told The Royal Gazette: “The Travel Calendar is there to show how public money is being spent.

“Ministers should use it to show how the public’s money is being used as soon as possible.”

When the Travel Calendar was revamped in October 2017, the Government promised it would give a rapid insight into how public money was being spent by ministers.

Lovitta Foggo, the then 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."

Wayne Furbert, the transport minister, is the latest minister to record his travel.

He reported that he met executive representatives from Royal Caribbean Group, Norweigen Cruise Lines, and Carnival Cruise Line in Miami to discuss planned cruises for 2023 and beyond.

The meetings from December 5 to December 6 cost $1,238.10, with airfares costing $663.48, accommodation was $394.72, meals were $141.90 and there were miscellaneous costs of $38.

Mr Furbert then went on to New York where he met airline executives to discuss expanding airlift to Bermuda, including year-round service.

He was accompanied by the chief executive of the Bermuda Airport Authority, Lester Nelson, and spent $1,959.95 with accommodation costing $1,396.07, airfares $505.98 and meals $65.90. There were miscellaneous charges of $19.

Jason Hayward, Economy and Labour Minister, also recently reported on his travel.

In April, Mr Hayward took part in the Risk and Insurance Management Society conference and exhibition in San Francisco at a cost of $3,783.31.

In September his trip to the Caribbean Infrastructure Forum CARIF 2022 in Miami had travel expenses of $985.15.

And Mr Hayward attended the Fintech Experience Conference in October in Barbados at a cost $2,749.04.

Mr Roban and the Government were contacted for comment on the failure to disclose information.

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Published December 19, 2022 at 7:50 am (Updated December 19, 2022 at 7:22 am)

Ministers fail to report travel expenses

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