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Statement On Minister’s Subsistence Cheque Posted On Social Media

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The Ministry of External Affairs, International Trade, Civil Aviation and Diaspora Affairs makes reference to an incident which happened on Friday, 9th June 2023, in which images of a Government cheque issued to Minister Alva Baptiste appeared on social media under seemingly questionable circumstances.

The cheque was issued to meet costs associated with the Honourable Minister’s attendance at the 53rd Regular Session of the OAS General Assembly in Washington DC from the June 21 – 23, 2023, namely accommodation for 7 nights in DC, and meals along with subsistence for the 8 days (Including travel days), that the Minister will be away.

Although Minister Baptiste has done his part in debunking the disparaging assertions that accompanied the online postings, I am duty bound as administrative head of the Ministry to address the matter as it relates to 1) Concerns about the confidentiality and fidelity of public officials in the handling of government information with which they are entrusted; and 2) Anxieties about the amount of the cheque.

On the issue of a potential confidentiality breach, I can report that the Ministry conducted an in-depth investigation into the incident and we are satisfied that the leaking of the document to social media resulted from a genuine error and was not driven by mischievous or malicious motives.

If anything, the Ministry’s investigation revealed the continued need to exercise care in the transmission of official documents and information.

This is particularly true in the age of information and communication technology, an age which has brought with it a heightened risk that confidential messages or information may inadvertently end up in the wrong destination or in the public domain.

Notwithstanding, the Ministry condemns efforts by some to capitalize on the latest glitch to commit political mischief and to mislead.

For instance, despite perverted references to the cheque as an illustration of lavish government spending on travel, the sums for meals and subsistence allowance are
computed using standard rates that have been in existence for over 25 years and have transcended several Administrations.

Moreover, these rates are differentiated by region; by whether the traveler is a Minister or Public Sector Official; and by whether the event being attended is a conference or a non-
conference activity.

Accommodation rates, however, are dependent on quoted hotel rates that are of course set by the vagaries of the market in the respective location.

To aid the understanding of those who might otherwise be misled, the cheque which was posted on social media was in the amount of Eastern Caribbean Thirteen Thousand, Three Hundred and Sixty Dollars and Seventy-One Cents [EC$13,360.71].

From that amount EC$7,493.19 (or USD$2,758) is to cover accommodation in Washington DC for 7 nights and the remaining EC$5,868.40 (or USD$2,160) is for meals and subsistence for 8 days.

These are standard allocations and clearly are not unreasonable when one considers the location of the meeting, namely Washington DC.

The total of the cheque in U.S. currency is USD$4,917. What is lavish about that?

PERMANENT SECRETARY
Ministry of External Affairs, International Trade, Civil Aviation and Diaspora Affairs

SOURCE: Ministry of External Affairs, International Trade, Civil Aviation and Diaspora Affairs

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13 COMMENTS

  1. My question is why 7 nights when the conference was for 3 days and travel time is 2 days because you get there in one day with one flight change. These ministers like to stay over extra days to shop with their accommodation and meals funded at tax payers expense. Those 2 extra days expense should have been from the joy rider’s pockets

  2. The permanent secretary has just created more confusion amongst the electorate.

    Why eight days for a three days meeting ?

    This statement and response from the PS lacks transparency. The Ministry would have been better served by the PS remaining quiet.

  3. These issues usually have simple solutions. The Minister should be given a per diem for the exact period as the event as it National Service.
    Any excess as In overage accumulated by the Minister in money spent or additional days beyond the event should come from his pocket and not those of the tax payers.
    Hon PM.
    Please sort this out We have far more important issues to deal with like inflation and a stagnant economy.
    We should not be dealing with the
    unethical
    spending habits of your cabinet.
    Thank you

  4. I applaud exposing this, but don’t stop there….expose those who spend exorbitant amounts on catering for staff work lunch meetings that end before the food even arrives. Expose those who claim expenses for food and drinks they bought when meeting clients but have an entertainment allowance. Expose those earning travel allowance but still use government vehicles for travel. Expose the flambeaus project managers who undermine labour staff and pay and treat flambeau staff better. Tired of yall.

  5. Sure. Not so extravagant an amount when people are leaving behind basic items like rice and toiletries at the check out point in the supermarkets because they cannot afford them. Most schools do not have hand soap and toilet paper for students or enough furniture. Not so extravagant at all. Smh

  6. You go Alva 😆 for so long you have been quiet , nadda was being heard from you . Now they gave you a jump start with a few days vacation to fool your a$$ ,,, ppl want to talk 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 . Well deserved sir .
    So sad to see how pierre put you on the back burner. SMH

  7. Something is fishy. Doesn’t the government itself pay for accommodation? Why all this money? Looks like those in the know have had enough and leaked the information. There seems to be a pattern of spending and collecting if u ask me. So if a plane can be taken to Gros islet.. it appears that the trick is to hop on it whether useful or not, and then collect. Wowee!

  8. I take is that you represent the island the people what is wrong if we see how much we tax payer pays you? What is private about it when you are using our money? You people so backward to the core.

  9. This thing is not just about Alva. The travelers of the previous administration abused the system. They lived in 5 star accommodations and dined with the finest money could buy. We need checks and balances on all government spending which are often times wasteful.

  10. A good analysis by ‘that is all V’ and ‘Rude’ and others.

    Why 7 days of expenditure for a 3 day meeting? From a broke country with serious levels of unemployment and with inflation ravaging wages!

    Additionally in many of these meetings meals are already paid for including breakfast at the hotels, so the thousands of dollars basically is a FREENESS for the Ministers. I bet the MINISTER has never dipped into his pocket To entertain someone who would be beneficial To the taxpayers of St Lucia! Not these cheese SLPs.
    To put it bluntly this $5,868.40 is just ‘pocket money’ for the Minister for his lavish lifestyle. Saying you are in DC is obsfucation because you have no meal expenses as explained above. AND the transportation is provided by the local ST Lucian consulate.

    Multiply This by 15 to 20 trips for the year and you get an idea of how the Ministers salary is DOUBLED for the year. PLUS with this significant Ministry he effectively reports nothing to the taxpayer. Instead of this defence the PS should be telling us what the Ministry does for all the money.

    If you want to disprove This, I challenge the MINISTER to print out and report to the people and taxpayers of St Lucia the number of trips he has taken for last 2 years, the amount of PER DIEM he has received AND the results of these trips for the betterment of the ravaged taxpayer. We know This will never happen with these SLP parasites sucking at the teat of the Treasury.

    This also does not address the issue raised by this expenditure which is the excessive travel by Ministers. This is not a one off expenditure but happens dozens of times during the year and costing hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions.

    The interesting point by this press release is the sheer emotion of the defence of the Minister by the Ministry. We never saw this kind of defence of ANY UWP Minister between 2016 and 2021.
    Why so emotional about a political operative?
    We have always been told about the linkage between the SLP and the Civil Service. Is this missive the perfect example?
    All of the defence by the Minister and SLP has proven to be garbage and has only shed light on the incompetence of this buffoon Alva Baptiste.

  11. These crooks are being exposed more and more. This was a three day event. If you want to spend more time there then do it on your own dime. Also as another commenter mentioned these definitely shouldn’t be private matters. Any money spent by the government should be public knowledge since it’s tax payers who pay you and citizens you’re working for. Every dime you get is because of taxes and national contributions. Lastly this is probably just a tiny fraction of the abuse happening. Remember this is the same government which refuses to address our road network due to lack of funds and we have an incoming 2.5 additional tax. Lord knows what they will be doing with that money.

  12. What do they want for him to do travel on a low budget carrier and stay in a roach motel ?? The amount allocated is fair gain in this day age……I flew up NY for a week of graduation and other celorbrrity events, shopping the way I am looking at it I will spend close to that there nothing cheap about this anymore. How did Allen spend to beat his tin yellow cup with a spoon in the hallway leading to the kitchen at at Mono Largo ??

  13. Comments on here and beyond sound so ignorant. In a world where things are so expensive. That’s one month’s salary for some people and their cost of living matches. Do we really expect a Minister to go to a guest house? or not travel first class perhaps or even stay 2 more days? are we kiddiing? perhpas he was conducting other business? How many people travel here for business to see how tiring it is to fly in and out without a break? How are you so sure he was able to get a flight immediately or any othher factor which could have contributed. Ignorance at its best.

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