Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Holness' 12 trips for 2016 cost $13 million, Ja got "great benefits"

Published:Friday | May 12, 2017 | 5:16 PM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness went on 12 overseas trips costing taxpayers approximately $13 million during his first ten months in office.

Opposition Senator Lambert Brown tabled questions in March for the cost and number of trips for the period March 2016, when Holness took office to December last year.

Information Minister Ruel Reid gave the overdue answers in the Senate this morning.

The total cost of the visits was US$98,960. Three of them were to the United States.

Reid insisted that the trips, mostly for conferences, were "in order" and Jamaica got what he called "great benefits".

A six-day trip to Morocco for a climate change meeting and the Bahamas had a combined cost of US$23,750.

Approximately US$19,150 was spent to cover the attendance at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

That trip included a stop in the Dominican Republic which was not in the answers tabled and led Brown to question if other trips were left out.

Senator Reid said no.

The delegations mostly consisted of one advisor, a security officer and an assistant.

However, Opposition member K.D. Knight said other government technocrats must have accompanied Holness to the many conferences and the costs would be required as well.

Politicians on both sides use overseas trips to attempt to highlight government waste.

But analyst have said it's difficult to assess their benefits.

When Portia Simpson Miller last served as Prime Minister, Holness as opposition leader, tabled similar questions and suggested the then government then was not being frugal.

The full cost of trips Simpson Miller took during her 2012-2016 time in office is not available but she went overseas more than 20 times during the first two years.

Travels related to Simpson Miller between January 2012 and 2014, totalled $53.5 million,  RJR reported in March 2015.