Minnis defends big increase in travel expenses


Tribune Staff Reporter


PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said increased travel to areas affected by Hurricane Dorian and a need to boost international investments to the country are the reason why the government’s travel budget has increased.

The 2019 Fiscal Strategy Report noted the budgetary allocation for travel and subsistence was said to have increased by more than $4 million. This comes after the government boosted its travel budget to $18.9 million at the start of the fiscal year.

In opposition, the Free National Movement frequently criticised the Christie administration’s travel expenditure. Although Dr Minnis agreed in 2017 to release a log indicating the travel expenses of all Cabinet ministers, the administration has not followed through on his pledge.

“I’m glad to have this conversation because we put out the new travel numbers for the public to see,” he said yesterday at a press conference. “The reality is that we are at the confluence of two major issues: one heartbreaking and the other heartening. We had to increase travel to the areas affected by Hurricane Dorian and as I’ve said, we won’t stop until those affected are back on their feet. At the same time, we are laser-focused on attracting more investment to the Bahamas to create more economic opportunities and better jobs for Bahamians.”

He also said: “The opposition is so focused on criticising everything we do that they are talking out of two sides of their mouth and spectacularly and foolishly contradicting themselves. The leader of the opposition criticised the increase in the travel budget, a part of which will be used for travel to boost international investment, while at the same time, his deputy said that the government should seek more international investment, which of course will require international travel.

“One way to increase international investment includes investment promotions and meetings overseas, which require international travel. We have to be aggressively on the road promoting all the islands of the Bahamas as prime investment destinations. We are pleased with the new international investments coming on stream in Grand Bahama, and we will have further announcements for Grand Bahama and Abaco. I am pleased that since coming to office, we have attracted approximately $8.6bn in international investment. We intend to attract even more through marketing and promotions overseas.”