Ramotar spends more than GUY$80 million on overseas trips

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 June 2014, 23:32 by GxMedia

President Donald Ramotar (left) and his predecessor Bharrat Jagdeo

President Donald Ramotar and his delegations have spent at least US$84.1 million (US$1.00 = GUY$210.00) on 26 overseas trips since taking office in 2011.

Calculations show that US$123,426 (GUY$25,919,460) were spent on accommodation;  GUY$49,532,326, US$41,460 and £898.15.

Government has, however, so far not provided any answers to the House about expenses that have been racked up by former President Bharrat Jagdeo since he left office in November 2011.

Providing written responses to A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) Desmond Trotman, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds said it was difficult to quantify the benefits of those trips. “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 said.

The list presented to the 65-seat National Assembly shows that US$25,000 for a visit to Venezuela on March 6,2014 by an “unlisted delegation” .  The most expensive trip was to Sri Lanka from November 15 to 17,2013 for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). The State spent US$12,400 on accommodation.

The second most expensive trip was one that took the President and his eight-member delegation to Queens and Brooklyn, New York, and Atlanta, Georgia from September 24-30,2013 around the period of the United Nations General Assembly. Figures show that US$11,550 were spent on accommodation and US$3,028,052 on travel. Accompany the President were First Lady Deolatchmie Ramotar; Former President Jagdeo, Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Finance Minister Ashni Singh, Ambassador Hallaq, Navin Chandrapal, Zulficar Ally and Lt.Col. Hercules.

The Prime Minister said since taking office, President Ramotar has made several high level visits to friendly nations such as the United States, Cuba and India. He noted that the Guyanese leader has also attended the United Nations General Assembly and participated in summits of Caricom, Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Nations, MERCOSUR, South American-Arab countries, the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), Commonwealth, and the European Union-Latin American and Caribbean (EU-LAC) integration mechanism , among others.

The Prime Minister said some of the results of the Prime Minister’s overseas trips  that will redound go the benefit of all Guyanese include increased support for national programmes in the area of disaster risk management, agriculture, small and medium enterprises, tourism and social development through South-South cooperation programmes  especially with CELAC and EU-LAC.  Other benefits, according to the Prime Minister, include improved interconnectivity with other South American countries through projects such as the upgrade of the Linden-Lethem road as well as the development of hydropower resources.

APNU’s Trotman still hopes that he will be told what are the total health expenses/claims met under the Former President’s Pensions Act for former President, Bharrat Jagdeo and/or his dependents for each month since he demitted office in 2011 to 28thFebruary, 2014 as well as what is the electricity charge paid under the Act for former President, Jagdeo, for each month since he demitted office in 2011 up to the end of February, 2014.

Trotman also wants to know what is the cost of providing transportation (local and overseas) inclusive of cars and drivers, including air cost and road under the Act for former President, Bharrat Jagdeo and/or his dependents for each month since he demitted office in 2011 to 28thFebruary, 2014 and what is the monthly cost of providing security for personal and property(s) under the Act for Jagdeo since he demitted office in 2011 until 28thFebruary, 2014.