A SENIOR government minister came out in defence of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller's frequent travels abroad during a debate on the Companies Amendment Act 2013 yesterday.
Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister A.J. Nicholson argued that the prime minister could not travel unless she was invited.
"There was a time not too long ago, lest we forget, that our head of government either did not or could not receive any invitations," Nicholson said to his colleague senators.
In a quick sotto voce comment, opposition Senator Robert Montague quipped: "Bruce Golding went to China."
"A throw mi corn … ," said Nicholson as he poked fun at the members on the Opposition benches.
When Montague rose to contribute to debate on the bill, he also commented on the prime minister's trips overseas.
"Nobody has any ill will against the honourable prime minister and her travels. What we have concerns about is the expenditure. Are the taxpayers being called upon to pay for private-sector people? Is [there reason for] the large delegations?" Montague questioned.
Senior government Senator K.D. Knight told his colleague senators that he had seen benefits resulting from travels he made overseas while he was minister of foreign affairs.
YIELDING GREAT BENEFITS
Knight noted that if large benefits could come from a minister's overseas travels, then the prime minister's visits abroad should yield even greater benefits.
He said the cost and benefits of travel abroad by government officials should be carefully assessed and not approached in a way that appears to be malicious.
"Let us refrain from making the issue of travel a political football," he added.
In recent times, Simpson Miller has come out swinging against her detractors who criticise her for travelling abroad frequently.
The prime minister has defended her overseas trips, noting that Cabinet approved every overseas visit.