Premier’s travel info made public

OTCC McKeeva Bush

In the two-year period from November 2009 to November 2011, Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush made some 65 trips to about 30 locations, costing the government about $380,000 for transportation, room, board and other expenses. That averages out to roughly $15,300 per month for 25 months.

According to records provided by the Ministry of Finance, Tourism and Development in response to a Freedom of Information request by the Caymanian Compass, Mr. Bush’s travels have taken him across the globe, to Asia, the Middle East, Europe, North America and Central America, as well as other Caribbean jurisdictions.

Destinations

Not surprisingly, Mr. Bush’s most frequented destination is Miami, followed by London, Jamaica and New York City. The official purposes of Mr. Bush’s trips include promoting the Cayman Islands’ finance and tourism industries, meeting with United Kingdom representatives, making diplomatic missions and courting overseas investors. In the last case, for example, Mr. Bush visited India in December 2009 to launch a phase of Dr. Devi Shetty’s Narayana Health University.

The Compass’ FOI request also called for information on expenses related to Mr. Bush’s travel to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. No listed costs are associated with the Sister Islands. The FOI request did not encompass costs incurred by any individual other than Mr. Bush.

In regard to George Town cruise berthing proposals, Mr. Bush visited Venice, Italy, in March 2011 to view dam projects by GLF Construction Corporation. He also travelled to Jamaica in June 2011 for meetings with Chinese officials in regard to cruise berthing and visited Jamaica again in September 2011 to meet with China Harbour Engineering Company and to obtain a Chinese visa. Mr. Bush travelled to England in November 2011 to meet in regard to procurement systems, the budget and the proposed cruise pier.

Expenses

The ministry’s figures are broken out according to the following categories: “airfare”, “subsistence”, and “accommodations/meals/transport”. For the two years, the cost of airfare totalled nearly $115,750; subsistence totalled $29,860; and accommodations/meals/transport totalled $236,680 – for a grand total of just under $382,300.

Mr. Bush racked up the most travel-related expenses in March 2010, when he spent more than $41,000 visiting Cuba (for tourism-related meetings), London (for meetings with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Bahamas (for meetings with Sagicor), Miami (for the SeaTrade event) and Washington, DC (to sign a tax information exchange agreement with Australia). The bulk of the expenses for that month was for accommodations/meals/transport, which totalled nearly $34,400.

According to the information provided by the ministry, in February 2011, Mr. Bush’s expenses actually totalled negative $16,800. During that month, he visited London, Jersey, Miami and Panama, for meetings with various government officials, the general manager of Copa Airlines and the regional manager of the Marriott hotels. In that month, Mr. Bush’s expenses totalled zero on airfare, $600 on subsistence and negative $17,400 on accommodations/meals/transport.

In April 2011, Mr. Bush travelled to London for the royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. During the same month, Mr. Bush also visited Vancouver for the Risk and Insurance Management Society’s annual conference. For the month, Mr. Bush spent $3,100 on travel, including nearly $1,700 on airfare and zero on accommodations/meals/transport.

For two months, August 2010 and January 2011, travel-related expenses appear, but with no listed destinations or purpose. In August 2010, Mr. Bush spent $500, all on airfare. In January 2011, Mr. Bush spent nearly $2,800, including $500 on airfare, $1,400 on subsistence, and $800 on accommodations/meals/transport.

 

Please click here to see the report, and click here to see the raw data in a spreadsheet.

McKeeva Bush UK trip

One of the trips Mr. Bush has taken within the past year sent him to London for the Overseas Territories Consultative Council. He’s pictured here with UK Minister Henry Bellingham and other Caribbean and UK leaders.
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12 COMMENTS

  1. That number seems extremely low. Did the FOI report include the cost of all those who traveled with him including consultants etc whose charges might be allocated to other accounts?

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  2. But that is part of his job. To travel to other countries to promote the country.

    How else is he supposed to do it? Hot air balloon?

    It doesn’t matter who you vote in as premier. It’s still going to tally to the same costs.

    So this story might as well read an average premier’s travelling costs.

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  3. Jose P: See fourth paragraph of the story –

    The Compass’ FOI request also called for information on expenses related to Mr. Bush’s travel to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. No listed costs are associated with the Sister Islands. The FOI request did not encompass costs incurred by any individual other than Mr. Bush.

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  4. Did the Compass not ask for an explanation of the negative expenses? Who paid the Cayman Islands Government 16,800 for the Premier to eat, sleep, and travel around some other country? Enquiring minds want to know.

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  5. The Cayman Government has competent people in the Tourism and Finance Ministries to promote them at any revue so for our political leader to say that is why he travels is not accurate. It seems to me that he spends more time traveling abroad then looking out for the people’s business at home. I feel we can’t afford his unnecessary traveling expense no matter what the excuse. I am grateful and appreciative to the Compass for exposing this hypocrisy by requesting the pertinent information and letting their readers know. The people should demand our extensive traveling leader cease and desist his ballooning of our budget in the best interest of the country.

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  6. May we be told how many days all this travelling occupied? and how many days necessary for Mr Bush to recover from jetlag, dinners and entertainments?
    He is not a young man nor in very good health,and this sort of strain should not be undertaken unless it is absolutely necessary, quite apart from who is looking after the Government while he is away.
    Does the stand-in Premier receive extra pay while Mr Bush is away?

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  7. How is it possible to have negative travel expenses?

    In February 2011 he visited London, Jersey, Miami and Panama, for meetings with various government officials, the general manager of Copa Airlines and the regional manager of the Marriott hotels.

    Is it an accounting error caused by a refund from the previous month?
    Seems very strange.

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  8. The man was THE PREMIER of the Cayman Islands. Does anyone questions the amount spent by the Premiers and Prime Ministers of other countries. What about people who are not from here, at one time travelled back and forth with their own family at Government’s expense, drove government cars every day to and from work, send their children to private schools, had their electricity and water bill and telephone bills paid ate out with their friends; and government took up the tab. Those things has only stopped here a recently we know that. We must stop being hateful against our own people and try and live good with everyone, be it Caymanians or non Caymanians.

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