Prime Minister: None of my trips cost $2m

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. – File photo by Roger Jacob

THE PRIME Minister says his office has been far more frugal than the People’s Partnership when it comes to travel and associated spending.

Dr Rowley, speaking at the post-Cabinet press briefing on April 18, said every trip he and his delegations took either earned or saved this country money.

“I am not a prime minister who travels for (the sake of it),” he said, responding to opposition criticism and a recent newspaper editorial about some 19 official trips costing taxpayers $10 million.

“One thing we can agree on is, international travel is expensive.”

Rowley spoke on the outcomes of individual meetings in the US.

He explained that the Prime Minister, government ministers and permanent secretaries all travel first-class, as is protocol. All others, he said, fly economy.

Rowley said the recent headlines are part of an opposition campaign to misrepresent the facts and spread misinformation.

He also said he had been criticised for not travelling to enough important functions during his last term.

He said none of his trips cost $2 million. By comparison, he pointed out two trips Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had made to Australia and India, costing taxpayers $2.6 million and $12 million, respectively. He noted the “scandal” after her trip in January 2012 that it had not cost $8 million, as her government had initially said, but $12 million, as he revealed at media conference at Balisier House.