Cayman Islands government ministers must now complete a form detailing expenditures while on official travel.
According to the “Official Travel Reporting Template” document, a minister’s personal assistant must complete that form within seven days of the politician’s return from official travel.
“The purpose of this official travel reporting form for ministers is to proactively publish travel-related information,” the form states. “Expected benefits of so doing include transparency, accountability for public funds and minimising media and/or [Freedom of Information] queries.”
One recent form sent out by government included $4,222.79 in costs for Premier Alden McLaughlin and Cabinet Secretary Samuel Rose’s trip to Trinidad for a CARICOM conference.
The form listed the travel location, the purpose of the trip [in this case, to attend a heads of government meeting hosted by CARICOM], the trip benefits or achievements and whether participants travelled first, business or economy class.
With regard to the 3 to 6 July trip to Trinidad, the premier’s travel reporting document indicated Messrs. McLaughlin and Rose flew economy on all flights “except for the return leg from Trinidad and Tobago to Miami” where they flew business class because no coach seats were available at the time of booking.
The trip was “essential for maintaining strong regional relationships and demonstrating commitment to our associate membership of CARICOM”, according to their filed report. The newly elected premier also had an opportunity to introduce himself to colleagues within the region, the travel report advised.
Airfare costs were the same for both men, $1,555.05 per ticket, and a per diem allowance of $90 per day equalled $360 for the four-day trip for both Mr. Rose and Mr. McLaughlin.
The premier’s hotel costs were picked up by the Trinidadian government, but Mr. Rose had to pay his way at $392.69 for a three-night stay.
The Progressives-led government had announced early on that a travel policy would be put in place for government ministers shortly after their administration took office.
In April 2013, the Caymanian Compass reported travel costs for various government administrations between 2005 and 2012.
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.
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 was 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), Juliana O’Connor-Connolly ($200,000), Alden McLaughlin ($170,000), East End representative Arden McLean ($130,000), 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 Kurt Tibbetts ($15,000).