Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 13th 2015 Contents 6.0000
for 12 NOVEMBER, 2015
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley will attend the
upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government
conference in Malta accompanied by a small del-
egation including his wife Sharon, Communication
Minister Maxie Cuffie said yesterday.
The conference which takes place from November
27 - 29 in the Mediterranean island state, will be
Dr Rowley s first overseas trip since assuming office
on September 9.
The Government is treating it as a high-level
engagement, attended as it will be by Britain s Queen
Elizabeth, the head of the Commonwealth, and
heads of the more than 50 other member coun-
At yesterday s Government press conference,
Cuffie said the delegation includes the Foreign and
Caricom Affairs Minister Dennis Moses, an ambas-
sador, acting High Commissioner to the UK, protocol
officer, director of trade, foreign service officer, two
security officers, Government Information Service
Ltd media and Mrs Rowley. He said GISL was going
to record Dr Rowley s first overseas trip.
Cuffie said the accompanying delegation was
small, and quipped that Dr Rowley wasn t being
accompanied by a hairdresser or makeup artist.
Cuffie confirmed a list of ministers who have
made overseas trips in the short life of the new
Government. It includes Attorney General Faris Al-
Rawi (France), Tourism Minister Shamfa Cudjoe
(Curacao), Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus
(Guyana) and Energy Minister Nicole Olivierre
(Venezuela and Bolivia).
Cuffie also earlier referred to "high-level con-
sultative talks" on energy, security and trade between
the Foreign Affairs Ministers of T&T and Venezuela
which occurred last month and which continued
yesterday in T&T.
Sharon Rowley s presence on the trip opens up
the Government to accusations of hypocrisy, as it
has consistently accused its predecessors of unnec-
essary spending. Even so, opposition members were
measured in response.
Commonwealth Summits, one of which
Trinidad and Tobago hosted in 2009, its golden
year for summitry, are short, intensely busy
affairs, held as the Malta one is over the last
weekend in November, Friday to Sunday.
There are gala events, dinners and toasts, so
the presence of Sharon Rowley is not, by itself,
controversial. Indeed there is a Women s Forum,
at which participants are tasked with placing
"women s social and economic issues on the
Commonwealth agenda," and although the nature
of Mrs Rowley s participation has not been con-
firmed, it is the kind of summit sidebar in which
leaders wives would be expected to participate.
Leaders get to meet the Queen and Prince
Philip. In Edinburgh in 1997, journalists got to
gawp at Nelson Mandela. PMs and presidents
spouses and First Ladies (and First Gentlemen)
have their place.
However, for a government that has spent a
good part of its two months in office decrying
unchecked spending by the opposition and prom-
ising to be more frugal, the optics are not good.
A Caribbean Airlines flight to London with a
BA connection to Valletta, the Maltese capital,
would cost over $29,000, first class.
The real question, though, surrounds the size
of the delegation. Excluding the Rowleys, two
security guards and an unspecified number of
GISL reporters, there are eight others in the T&T
team. The new Foreign and Caricom Affairs Min-
ister is an automatic pick, as is the Acting High
Commissioner to the UK.
Questionable would be the unnamed ambas-
sador, protocol officer and a foreign service officer.
A quick, very rough calculation based on the air-
fare, with the understanding that not everyone
is flying first class and not everyone is starting
out in T&T, would put the cost of air tickets alone
at over a quarter of a million T&T$. The top
hotels cost T&T$7,000 nightly. The total bill could
easily rise to T&T$0.5m.
All this would raise questions about whether
the new Government is walking the talk about
Query over Sharon's Malta trip
Members of the El
of NGC's Sanfest
at Naparima Bowl,
Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
news Friday, November 13, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
For breaking news, call 225-4465 Exts 2032, 2033, 2004 or email us at email@example.com
PAYING HER WAY
Former People's Partnership foreign
affairs minister Suruj Rambachan said
there was no rule that forbade Dr
Rowley from taking his wife to CHOGM,
"once it's official business, he can carry
his wife on the CHOGM trip---that is my
understanding of the situation. It's a
choice he has to make, whether he
wishes to or not, since he's said he's
concerned about Government spending,
(so) he might want to take that into
consideration," Rambachan added.
Vasant Bharath who is contesting the
UNC leadership, said there was no
protocol barring Dr Rowley's wife from
accompanying him, but it would be
unusual for taxpayers' funds to be used
for travel on Government business.
"One would assume payment for his
wife's trip would come from personal
funds," Bharath added.
Cuffie said he couldn't say why the
PM's wife had to accompany him or
give a cost for the Malta trip.
He told T&T Guardian that the costs
may not have been quantified yet. He
said he was in his constituency at the
time and couldn't access such
Last month Cuffie had said Cabinet
had accepted a recommendation that
first-class and business travel would
now be restricted to only high-level
public officials and the judiciary, in a bid
to streamline operations and ensure
Cabinet decided certain officers ---the
CJ, judges, cabinet members, minister
and THA chief secretary---would be
entitled to first-class travel and other
officers would be asked to use the
other classifications of travel available.
Also last month, Dr Rowley had told
Parliament that former prime minister,
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, racked up 636
hours of helicopter time, allegedly
flying 415 missions at a cost of over $6
million. Cuffie was quoted as saying
under the PNM Government, official
travel will be undertaken only when
necessary and when it can bring
benefit to T&T.
Dr Rowley had also told a PNM
public meeting last month that the
former PP gGvernment "spent" $250
million on travel. Dr Rowley had said it
was important for Government
members to travel because they had
business outside T&T."
"So ministers will have to travel from
time to time but we believe that travel
ought not to be a perk and a junket. It
ought to be done only when necessary
because it is very expensive," Dr
Rowley was quoted as saying then.
He had taken a potshot at Persad-
Bissessar, saying he saved the country
money on election night when he
became prime minister by not having a
hairdresser and a powder man in his
Dr Rowley had also said then,
Government would be looking at ways
to cut out waste and corruption in the
LOWER SPENDING ON TRAVEL
Links Archive November 12th 2015 November 14th 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page