Twenty-six presidential trips by President Donald Ramotar and his entourage have cost around $95M since he took office in November 2011.
APNU MP Desmond Trotman had tabled questions in Parliament asking about the number of overseas trips made by the president since taking office and the total dollar cost of each trip for the President and his delegation.
Answers to the questions were circulated in parliament yesterday in the name of Prime Minister Sam Hinds. The answer listed 26 trips with costs for each but with no total figure.
There were four trips to Suriname and others to Brazil, Venezuela and Trinidad.
There were also trips to New York, the Common-wealth Heads of Govern-ment Summit in Sri Lanka and to China and India.
The delegations have comprised on the average five persons. On two of them, taxpayers footed the expenses for former President Bharrat Jagdeo. These were on trips to Brazil/Toronto, Canada and Chile/India.
For the latter, the taxpayer paid US$3,625 and $4.3M for Jagdeo for accommodation and airfare respectively.
Among the persons on various delegations were government ministers Anil Nandlall, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Robert Persaud, Clement Rohee, Frank Anthony, Ashni Singh and Irfaan Ali. Others who were aboard include former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd, Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud, Office of the President official Shyam Nokta, Amerindian leader Yvonne Pearson, Navin Chandarpal and journalists from the state media.
In the list, there was one trip to Venezuela on March 6, 2013 by President Ramotar. His delegation was not listed in the answer and an overall cost of US$25,000 was supplied.
In a separate question, Trotman had also asked about the benefits to be gained from these trips by the President.
Hinds in his reply said in part “Concerning the quantification of the gains of the President’s trips overseas, there is a danger that seeking to assign direct values in specified time frames to agreements reached etc. may be a too simplistic way of assessing the overall benefits to the nation”.
He cited benefits as the continued consolidation of the Caricom integration, improved inter-connectivity with South American nations, development of hydro resources and associate membership of the region trade bloc MERCOSUR.