Ministries release travel costs since 2005

Cayman Islands ministers travel main

View Cayman Islands ministers’ travel, 2005-2013 in a larger map

 

The
Cayman Islands government has released information on hundreds of
thousands of dollars in travel expenses racked up by elected officials
and companions since 2005. 

Of
the ministers who held posts for several years, former Premier McKeeva
Bush had the biggest travel bill – more than $1 million – while former
Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts had the lowest travel bill,
at less than $15,000. 

Well-travelled  

The Caymanian Compass submitted requests for travel expenses to each ministry and portfolio (as well as the Cabinet Office) under the Freedom of Information Law near the end of 2012.  

Because the ministries provided information with varying levels of detail – for instance, the purposes of expenditures sometimes became less specific in regard to the 2005-2009 People’s Progressive Movement government – it is difficult to directly compare spending amounts across different ministries and governments. 

However, the expenses associated with ministers (and in most cases their travel companions) are as follows: Mr. Bush ($1 million), Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly ($200,000), Leader of the Opposition Alden McLaughlin ($170,000), East End representative Arden McLean ($130,000), Deputy Premier Rolston Anglin ($130,000), Bodden Town representative Mark Scotland ($110,000), George Town representative Mike Adam ($23,000), Bodden Town representative Anthony Eden ($17,000) and Mr. Tibbetts ($15,000). 

The $23,000 associated with Mr. Adams’ travel includes 13 trips by Mr. Adam, as well as one trip to Florida in January by Bodden Town legislator Dwayne Seymour, who took charge of the Ministry of Community Affairs, Gender and Housing in December 2012. 

 

Ministries on the move  

The Ministry of Tourism did not provide a precise expenditure amount for travel by former Tourism Minister Charles Clifford (now an independent candidate for Bodden Town), but did send a table showing that official travel for the entire ministry from 11 May, 2005, to 30 June, 2009, totalled $4.6 million. That amount includes expenses for all of the ministry’s civil servants as well as Mr. Clifford. The ministry did not provide information about travel destinations or purposes during that time period. 

Even though the Compass did not request expenses for civil servants, the Ministry of Education also provided totals for all official travel in addition to ministers’ trips. 

From 11 May, 2005, to 19 May, 2009, (then under Mr. McLaughlin), the Ministry of Education, Training, Employment, Youth, Sports and Culture spent $1.7 million on travel – including $170,000 for Mr. McLaughlin alone, $220,000 for Chief Officer Angela Martins and $1.3 million for other civil servants. 

From 20 May, 2009, to 28 February, 2013, Mr. Anglin’s Ministry of Education spent $470,000 on travel – including $43,000 on Mr. Anglin alone, $32,000 for Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues and $400,000 for other civil servants. 

In addition the information provided by the ministries, the Cabinet Office supplied information on $240,000 in travel expenses for officials to attend meetings in Cayman Brac, the UK and elsewhere. More than $49,000 in expenses is associated with travel to the UK in early 2009 for constitutional talks. 

Overall, some ministries categorised expenses according to individual trips and purposes, such as hotel, airfare, food/drink and per diem payments. 

Of the categorised expenses, about $445,000 was spent on hotels; about $487,000 was spent on airfare; and $117,000 was spent on food/drink and per diem payments. 

 

Where in the world  

As would be expected, much of the ministers’ travel is to the Sister Islands, Caribbean jurisdictions, the UK and the US. However, fling a dart at a map of the world and there’s a good chance it’ll hit somewhere near to where a Caymanian official has been in the past eight years. 

Officials have travelled to the following destinations: Abu Dhabi, Anguilla, Antigua, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Bali, Barbados, Belize, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Canada, China, Cuba, Curacao, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Dubai, Falkland Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Greenland, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jersey, Kenya, Mexico, New Caledonia, Panama, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, Sweden, Taiwan, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, UK and US. 

The reasons given for trips vary. They include: athletic functions, meetings with UK and/or overseas territories officials, conferences, seminars, document signings, inspections of facilities (such as detention centres), and events to mark the openings of new Cayman Airways routes. 

 

Level of response  

The Compass submitted its Freedom of Information requests near the end of 2012. The Ministry of Community Affairs, Gender and Housing was the first to supply records 25 January. The three portfolios responded fairly quickly that they did not have any records of travel expenses on behalf of elected officials. 

The only entity who has not provided information in response to the request is the Financial Services arm of the Ministry of Finance, Tourism and Development formerly under Mr. Bush, now part of Mr. Anglin’s Ministry of Education, Financial Services and Employment. On 12 April, the Compass appealed the non-response to the Information Commissioner’s Office. 

(The other two arms of Mr. Bush’s former ministry – Public Finance and Tourism – have responded to the information request. West Bay lawmaker Cline Glidden is now Minister for Tourism and Development, while Ms O’Connor-Connolly has taken responsibility for Public Finance.) 

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15 COMMENTS

  1. These guys must certainly travel in style. There should be a committee setup that civil servants have to submit the travel plans to for approval before taking the trips. If they are not approved they would have to option of footing the bill themselves. Watch how much the spending would go down then..

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  2. Government officials who have traveled at the expense of the public have put new meaning into the term happy hour.
    Bring back the good old days and have these bureaucratic parasites walk the plank. It never stops when public money is involved for the taking.

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  3. Most of the expenses must have came from the dining and accomodations of these officials.

    One thing I must say may have been worth the travel, was meetings with Doctor Shetty in India and travels to the UK to meet the FCO ministers. But to think of 1000000 dollars…..

    That is a huge figure.

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  4. Patrick, nice mapping widget, much appreciated, very insightful and a much nicer way to read the information. I, in fact, did not read the article, I just clicked about on the map for far too long!

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  5. The saying used to be Join the Navy and see the world, in Cayman it appears to be Join the government and see the world.
    I have no problem with the concept of travelling for official business but most entities demand accountability and have policies and procedures in place for their employees that travel on business. I wonder what policies and oversight exists for the ministries.

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  6. The raw numbers are pretty meaningless. Context is everything. The important information is the purpose for these trips and what was achieved as a result. There is no problem with a minister spending a million bucks on flying off an a trip in a private jet, if he brings back a billion dollar investment. Equally, if the trip served no practical purpose beyond an agreeable break for the ministers and officials in question, then flying in the baggage hold of an aeroflot rust-bucket would be an unnecessary extravagance.

    I’m guessing from the lack of good news on the investment and economic front over the last few years, that most of this expenditure falls into the latter category.

    Well, it’s your money they’ve been spending people, so bear it in mind when these people ask you to vote for them again next month.

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  7. NO wonder so many newbies are jumping on the election band-wagon, some without even the vaguest ideas as to how they would effect changes,should they be elected. Furthermore, the money is good for a person who only works part time and get a pension after, plus all the perks. Where else would you get such lucrative emoluments. Only CI Government

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