President David Granger and his delegations have so far spent more than GYD$200 million on 37 overseas visits between 2015 and 2018, according to parliamentary records.
No costs were mentioned for his recent medical visits to Trinidad in October and Cuba in November.
Only one occasion did the President’s delegation number 12. For the most part, they were in single digits.
In response to questions by the Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira, the Minister of State Joseph Harmon said government got value for the GYD$209,499,223.20 spent on foreign trips. “Since taking office, H.E. President David Granger has attended several regional and international conferences as part of the government’s overall policy of advancing Guyana’s foreign policy objectives in respect of multilateral and specific bilateral issues at the highest level,” Harmon said in response to a question about the immediate and medium term benefits of those visits.
Key among the actual benefits listed by the Minister of State was the eventual referral of the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy to the International Court of Justice by the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres earlier this year. “Our interests were also taken into account in the outcome documents, especially those relating to the preservation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity, climate change, the 2030 development among others. The President’s engagements with the United Nations Secretary General contributed to the decision to refer the longstanding border controversy with Venezuela to the International Court of Justice for final settlement,” he said.
Harmon added that Guyana, as a result of the overseas trips, benefitted from capacity building for the Green State Development Strategy through finding for renewable projects.
The State Minister said the Granger-led delegations have led to “increased and heightened collaboration in several areas” between Guyana and those countries and organizations. They include summits of MERCOSUR Commonwealth, Caribbean Community, Association of Caribbesn States, Union of South American Nations , Latin Andrica and Caribbean, as well as meetings of thr United Nations General Assembly and the International Solar Alliance (ISA). Harmon added that Guyana will be benefitting from expertise, training and equipment from the ISA.
In 2015, Granger made 11 overseas trips at a cost of GYD$57,534,300; eight in 2016 at a cost of GYD$44,773,029; eight in 2017 at a cost of GYD$42,760,482 and 10 sober for this year at a cost of GYD$64,431,261.
Countries visited include United States, Ethiopia, Malta,Morocco, Belgium, Kenya, Brazil, Vietnam, Cuba and several Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member nations.