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PM defends hike in allowances


PM defends hike in allowances

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NASSAU – Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said he was once placed in “an embarrassing situation” in Brussels where he had to borrow a credit card from someone to pay a hotel bill as he defended the decision of his administration to increase the travel allowances for Cabinet ministers and their spouses.

Minnis, who returned Thursday from Barbados where he attended the 31st Inter-sessional summit of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders, said that since the new allowances had gone into effect no spouse has taken advantage of the increase.

“I don’t think one Cabinet minister’s spouse has taken advantage of that and you’ll find, in most instances, Cabinet ministers travel by themselves,” Minnis said, after first becoming agitated when the question was posed by reporters.
“ . . .What you don’t know is that on many occasions, Cabinet ministers, including myself, travel with insufficient funds,” he said, adding “I used my own credit card to pay the government’s bills. That happens regularly. So, we always have to travel with our own cash and our own credit card.

“In fact, I was placed in an embarrassing situation as prime minister of the country when I travelled to Brussels only to discover that they did not accept cash. They did not accept swipe card. You needed a chip. I had to borrow a card from someone else to pay a bill.”

“And you worrying about US$100? Next question,” Minnis said at the news conference.

Last year, cabinet agreed to the new policy increasing the number of annual trips for the ministers’ spouses and affording them a US$100 daily per diem, which is equivalent to the per diem paid to technical officers in the public service.

The policy also increases ministers’ per diem by 25 per cent for domestic travel and 67 per cent for international travel. The ministerial per diem for domestic travel was increased US$100 per day and US$250 for international travel. (CMC)