THE Parliamentary Opposition Group is shocked by media revelations that the Prime Minister’s 16-men delegation trip to Taiwan is costing taxpayers SBD $1.6million.
In a statement on Monday, the Opposition Group called on the Office of the Prime Minister & Cabinet (OPMC) to justify the total cost of the trip.
“The amount is not only outrageous but it is also unbelievable and unjustifiable,” the opposition said.
The Opposition Group understands that the Republic of China (ROC) Taiwan have met the total costing (airfares, accommodation, food) for eight people (Ministers & Government MPs) including the Prime Minister and his wife.
As such, the statement said the Government only footed the bill for the other eight people which consist of accompanying officials.
“If ROC has met expenses for the Prime Minister and his wife with other Ministers and MPs, then why does the Prime Minister need an imprest totaling $1,050,312.00 for this trip?
“This is unjustifiable. Taxpayers of this country need to know why they are footing that much for this trip,” it said.
According to Finance Ministry documents which was published in the mainstream and social media, the costing of the trip are as follows;
· Total imprest-SBD $1,050,312.00
· Airfares for 8 people- $106,866.20
· Perdiums for 16 people-$ 459,967.97
The statement added the figures above do not include the expenses of the other eight people which include the Prime Minister, his wife, ministers and MPs.
“The OPMC must speak up and explain.”
The Parliamentary Opposition Group acknowledged that this excessive cost of overseas delegation has been a practice not only by DCCG but successive Governments and it needs to stop.
The Opposition Group also criticized the Prime Minister describing him as a ‘hypocrite’ because during his time as Opposition Leader, he was outspoken against huge delegations as such, yet the Prime Minister has done the opposite.
The Opposition Group has reiterated its call for the OPMC to explain the role of each of the Prime Minister’s 16 member delegation.
“This is important for transparency and accountability purposes as it will also explain the value taxpayers are footing for this trip,” the Parliamentary Opposition emphasized.
The Opposition Group also challenged the Government to start to act responsibly and to provide reports of its overseas trips so that people know what positive returns the country gains from these trips.