Govt to spend nearly $9 million on travel
The Free National Movement (FNM) will increase the allocation for “Travel and Subsistence” in the 2018/2019 budget and the following two fiscal periods.
The government has budgeted $8.88 million for travel and subsistence in 2018/2019 – $220,000 more than in 2017/2018.
The allocation for the upcoming budget is also $1.26 million more than the Christie administration allocated in 2016/2017, according to the budget.
The government expects to allocate $8.95 million in 2019/2020 and a further $9.09 million for 2020/2021, the budget shows.
When contacted, Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said he will provide an explanation on the increase, including how the reallocations in the budget impacted certain individual heads.
A closer look at the budget shows the allocation for travel and subsistence in the Office of the Prime Minister has more than tripled, from $100,000 in 2017/2018 to $424,000 in 2018/2019.
In 2016/2017, the previous administration budgeted $76,706 for the Office of the Prime Minister for travel and subsistence.
In the budget, there is also a $100,000 travel and subsistence allocation for the Ministry of Financial Services, Trade and Industry and Immigration – $67,200 more than the current year.
In 2016/2017, the allocation for this ministry was $13,754, the budget shows.
For 2018/2019, $119,000 has been allocated for travel and subsistence for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, up $44,000 from the previous allocation.
The allocation for the ministry was $75,000 in 2017/2018 and $66,000 in 2016/2017.
In contrast, the allowance for travel and subsistence in the Ministry of Finance has been reduced from $3.85 million in 2017/2018 to $779,700 in 2018/2019 – a decrease of 79 percent.
The Free National Movement, when in opposition, was critical of the Christie administration’s traveling, branding many of those trips as “wasteful”.
In January, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis committed to disclose ministers’ travel costs.
He made that pledge following a three-day trip to Texas, where he met Texas Governor Greg Abbott, members of the Austin Technology Council and the Texas Association of Business.
He assured Bahamians that every penny his government spends on travel will be accounted for.
The prime minister has since led delegations to Peru to attend the Summit of the Americas, and England to attend the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
Minnis said his mission for those trips was to foster a “brighter future” for Bahamians.
Press Secretary Anthony Newbold said last month the report on ministers’ travel may not come before the end of the year.
He explained that compiling the trips for all ministers with explanations is an “extensive” undertaking.
Newbold also reported last year that the government was looking into the travel expenses of government officials under the former administration with a view to providing a report on it.
But there has been no update on that probe since.