Govt has duty to provide info on spending – TIGI

first_imgEconomic mission tripsAfter it was first revealed that President David Granger used a chartered plane to fly to The Bahamas on a State visit, a senior Government official was reported in sections of the media to have promised details on the chartered flight would be provided.That was late last month. More than two weeks later, Government has yet to release to the public details of how much of taxpayers’ money was expended on the trip. And, according to Transparency Institute Guyana Incorporated (TIGI) Head, Dr Trevor Thomas, if questions are raised about the spending of taxpayers’ monies, the Government has a responsibility to respond to them.President David Granger upon arriving in The Bahamas“We shouldn’t have questions about this. And if there are questions raised, then the answers should be forthcoming,” Dr Thomas said during a recent interview. “I don’t think that is a private matter or a security matter or anything like that, so I wouldn’t agree with keeping things like that a secret.”Dr Thomas said if there was a reason that the President or the Government did not want to come clean on the costs, then that would have to be an exceptionally good reason. But he added that as it was a State visit, he did not see a reason for not providing the details.“If there are questions about the spending I don’t see why the answers shouldn’t be forthcoming. Once you are using taxpayers money, you should be accountable for it and you should be willing to answer the questions. So, I would find that a problem, if the answers are not forthcoming.”TIGI has not been the only entity, along with individuals, calling for full disclosure. The parliamentary Opposition has also questioned the expenditure. And explanations from Government officials that the chartered plane was the most feasible option appear to not even scratch the surface, as the Opposition wants specifics.Not a private matterAccording to Opposition parliamentarian and former Junior Finance Minister Juan Edghill, a President’s trip overseas on behalf of the State is certainly not a private matter. As such, details should be made available to taxpayers.The Government, he noted, in the interest of transparency and accountability to the people of Guyana should release all the details. According to Edghill, “when the President travels, (it) is not a private matter. He is representing the State of Guyana.”“He is being funded by the State and the citizens of the State must at all times be fully aware of what it is costing the State for the President to represent the State,” Edghill said in an interview with this publication. Edghill had also been adamant that the State should officially make known what tangible benefits Guyana gained from the trip. “The President must be able to show the country what benefits would have accrued to Guyana in the short to medium term as a result of this expenditure and spending,” Edghill said.The President had arrived in The Bahamas on March 2, as part of a three-day State visit which has been dubbed an ‘economic mission’. According to a report in a Bahamian newspaper, the President was expected to pay a courtesy call on the Governor General and then meet with the Guyanese Diaspora.But reports are the chartered plane and the trip all together cost Guyanese taxpayers some $18 million, as the President was accompanied by an entourage, which included Ministers and other personnel for whom accommodation was provided.There has been no word on whether any bilateral trade agreements, prospective or otherwise, were secured in Guyana’s interest.In a Government news report, it was related that the President visited and toured several industrial sites in Freeport, Bahamas, including the Grand Bahama Shipyard, where he said the visit to that country has been a learning lesson for Guyana for its future growth and development.last_img

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