Ahhh, the perks of being a politician.
Since August 2009, government has spent
$213,819 for 21 international trips involving Deputy Premier Juliana
O’Connor-Connolly, according to information provided by the ministry.
That’s more than $200,000 in just a little
more than two years. Most families in the Cayman Islands don’t make near that
much money in that amount of time. The Cayman Free Press has been submitting
Freedom of Information requests concerning travel expenses involving our
From what we’ve been able to glean so far,
those trips are spent in lavish hotels and the travellers aren’t shy about
using their daily allotted stipends.
Before the shouting at us begins, we concur
that the men and women we elect to lead this territory should travel overseas
to keep abreast of latest technologies, information and keep the good name
Cayman in the forefront for future investment on our shores. But there should
be some accountability.
For instance, the deputy premier’s ministry
recently spent $42,000 on a trip to Doah for the 25th Universal Postal
Congress. She travelled with two companions. While it is well and good that the
trip was made, we would like to know what the Cayman Islands – the people who
pay the politicians’ wages – got out of the conference. Will there be policy
changes? Was she given knew ideas for how to streamline and cut the costs of
our postal system? Just what was the trip for? And is it really necessary to
fly first class and stay at four- and five-star hotels?
The reality is that the majority of the men
and women the deputy premier works for cannot afford first class accommodations
on flights and have only seen the inside of top rated hotels on television or
movie screens. The problem of travel expenses and politicians taking advantage
of generous travel budgets isn’t anything unique to Cayman, but we should be
doing something to address needless and wasteful spending on these jaunts.
Should our politicians go to these overseas
meetings? Certainly. Should they be more accountable for the money – our money
– they spend while away? Absolutely.