No first class for McClean
THERE IS ONE Government minister that one will not find in the first class section of a plane while on official business.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, says she has given up the comfy treatment of the most expensive section of most carriers for the sake of the country, which is facing belt-tightening at every level.
She made the disclosure in the Senate yesterday as the Chamber began debate on the 2014-2015 Appropriation Bill which includes the Estimates of Government Revenue and Expenditure for the new financial year.
Explaining that while she was one of the most travelled members of Cabinet because of her portfolio, she had taken a decision to fly business class.
However, she made a point that she would not travel economy class on long-haul flights because she needed to be alert and ready to attend meetings soon after landing in a destination.
According to her, given the amount of flying that she did, she could end up with a thrombosis from flying economy.
She told colleagues in the Senate that travel was not leisure and it involved important Government business.
McClean said the budget to her ministry had been cut and was now $53 million or just 1.4 per cent of Government’s overall budget.
The Cabinet member also used the session to reference comments that suggested her ministry was only about courtesy calls.
She said very often away from the cameras, serious lobbying took place to advance Barbados’ positions or demands in the international community.
In this connection, she cited the efforts made to push for changes to Britain’s Air Passenger Duty (APD) which she said was unfair to Barbados and other Caribbean countries because of the higher rate passengers paid to come to the region, even though it was closer to Britain than many parts of the United States.
McClean explained that not only did Barbados lobby the British government but it used its diplomatic connections to lobby key partners of Britain, such as South Africa, to put pressure on the David Cameron administration to adjust its APD policy. (GE)