Thousands of dollars in taxpayers’ money being spent on overseas trips for high-ranking members of the Mia-Mottley administration is money well spent, the Prime Minister has declared.
During Sunday evening’s well attended and widely broadcast meeting of St Michael West Barbados Labour Party constituency, Mottley sought to dispel any notions that members of her government were using the money to live luxuriously.
“I am not travelling first class, I am not staying in any Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons or Shangri-La. In fact they [Government ministers] laugh at me and tell me that I have them living very basic. But that is because it is not about luxury, it is about giving Barbados the best possible chance and this Government will remain focused to do that which the Democratic Labour Party did not do in the last decade,” Mottley said.
Instead, she described the trips as absolutely necessary to mend the country’s reputation after the DLP administration’s 2018 collapse.
“This country’s name and reputation have been driven into the ground by the Democratic Labor Party and Freundel Stuart and no amount of letter writing or emails or phone calls would cause people to believe that Barbados has a different Government or Barbados is back or that Barbados deserves to be trusted again,” she explained.
“Too many times in the last 17 months, I have heard people tell us that Barbados just was not interested and Jerome [the Minister of Foreign Affairs] can tell you.”
“Up to last [Saturday] night, he [Walcott] reported to me from a trip out of Italy. The Italians put money there for the whole Caribbean to use and there was no response from the Barbados government before, to the point where people felt we were no longer interested.”
During her time in office, the PM, members of her Cabinet and diplomatic staff have taken numerous trips to address international organisations in North America and Europe calling for greater action on climate change among other issues affecting small developing countries. Government delegations have also visited Canada and the U.S to promote Government’s 2020 We Gatherin’ campaign and have gone as far as the North African nation of Morocco to forge deeper ties.
Mottley explained that in a world of fake news, it was not enough to simply communicate via Internet platforms because it was necessary to represent the country with a human face.
“You have to go and you have to shake hands and build networks and work with people to give us the best chance that we can get for this country and that is what we have been doing. If the travel is necessary, we do it,” Mottley said.
“So even when travel takes place, there is no extravagance. If you are on a plane a Saturday or Sunday, the meeting is the Monday and you are back on the plane on Tuesday or Wednesday.”