Rivers’ Africa trip official

| 09/09/2013

(CNS): The minister for education was the official government representative on her recent trip to theCommonwealth Parliamentary Association Annual Conference in South Africa, the premier’s office has confirmed. This means that the cost of the trip will be partially paid for from the public purse. Although the office stated that Tara Rivers was taking leave when her counsellor Winston Connolly was sworn in as the temporary minister last month, officials admitted on Friday that Rivers was in fact government’s official delegate at the conference in Johannesburg. Although Connolly had originally been earmarked to go, Rivers took the spot instead because she missed an earlier CPA meeting in July as a result of the election petition challenge.

“CPA government Minister Rivers is attending the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Annual Conference, including the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarian meeting as the official delegate representing the government,” a statement from the premier’s office released Friday stated. “This is an annual conference that the Cayman Islands branch of the CPA sends delegates to every year – one from the Government, one from the opposition. She wasinvited to attend the CPA regional conference earlier (in July) but was not able to attend that one, so the opportunity arose to attend this one, as the official delegate.

“The cost of the trip, as all such CPA conferences, is taken care of by the CPA. She intends to issue a press release covering the trip upon her return,” the press secretary to the premier added.

It is understood that the international CPA covers most of the cost for Cayman’s official CPA representative, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, the speaker of the House, who was also in Johannesburg for the conference and who returned to the island by Friday in time for the swearing in ceremony for the new governor, Helen Kilpatrick.

Rivers was absent from the welcome events for Kilpatrick but is expected to be back in the ministry Monday. Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush, who was also on the trip, told CNS last week that the funds given to the local CPA come from the public purse.

With a new government travel policy, the premier has recently revealed that delegations on all official travel are being reduced to the bare minimum of delegates and officials are required to travel premium economy and not business class unless they pay for their own upgrades.

CNS has contacted the relevant government authorities to make a Freedom of Information request for the cost to local coffers for the Cayman delegation’s Africa trip.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Politics

About the Author ()

Comments (45)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    What a complete and utter waste of our money. Total rubbish. Just cut the crap and start getting Caymanians employed, okay? Bunch of jokers.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Official travel policy is one thing but enforcement of this travel policy is quite another.  I know that everyone in the civil service continues to travel in business class regardless of what the official policy is.  I'd be surprize if Tara flew premium economy and not business class.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Mr.  Connolly you have disappointed so many of your fellow Caymanians.  What happened? We really thought you would stand up for your fellow Caymanians!.  So sad! I just want to cry.

  4. Porky Pig says:

    Which passport did Ms. Rivers use, the American, Russian, or Chinese one? 

  5. Anonymous says:

    This is the fallacy of a coalition government with parties that clearly have different  ideas and agenda. This is only the beginning of the whipping stick that Alden has for his back with Tara. She clearly has an entitlement mentality and is unwilling to bend. This was evident from the moment Alden offered her a position in government and how she responded (holding us all to ransom for days) to how she ran in spite of her issues with eligibility to run.  And this is only the beginning. Alden good luck me boy in handling that Trojan horse. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    Honestly, You guys are so quick to get the pitchforks out. Moan, watch, moan, complain and all the while doing nothing of note to contribute to our community. I'm very ashamed.

  7. Anonymous says:

    How bout getting some work done here on island before going global hopping to do what. Pathetic waste ofmoney. It is true trips like this are on the Government dime BUT, when the country is so strained financially then screw the trips and get some work done here. Hello???? Mcfly??? Is there anybody in there????? 

  8. Anonymous says:

    I just want to know if there is going to be an organized march against the government on the TLEP's approval.

    We can't stand for this!! First Mckeeva and Kurt , now Alden…

    Supposedly Cayman is going to come to an end ifthese 1500 are not granted the right to stay. The only one that I believe can bring an end to this Country is God not Mckeeva or Alden although they both sure have tried ..Cayman needs its politicians to stop pandering to businesses who fail to plan. Caymanians are suffering and the politicians couldn't care less. It looks like we will have to suffer another 4years again.

    I'm a Caymanian, with a Masters Degree and over ten years experience in my field. I am constantly told that I am overqualified or that I don't have the necessary experience although I don't know why ten years is not enough.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Why did it take so long for the government to admit that she was away on official business. I see no problem with her representing the government at this conference and only became suspicious that something might be wrong because the government took so long to admit that she was away on official business. Now I want to know the real story.

  10. Anonymous says:

    People, a sense of urgency is needed here.

    Economically, we have to move fast as there just isn't any financial buffer to cushion us any more. The last shower made sure of that.

    More than ever, we cannot continue to fund the life long pensions, salaries, bodyguards, drivers etc as the well is running dry.

    With this in mind, now more than ever, should the slightest reoccurrence of any waste of funds be detected, the systems in place to remove these people should be used immediately.

    I don't care if they have been in office for one day or one hundred days, it doesn't matter to them as they are on the gravy train now for life.

    I will not fund it and neither should the rest of the electorate who put them there, if we take an indecisive approach and dither, it will end badly economically for sure.

    Let them stand up, justify their spending, show us tangible proof of the value to the community and they may just keep their jobs.


  11. Anonymous says:

    Need to run next time – Where Mac hasnt been is the question.


    Ju Ju ah cathc up and Tara ah learn from the masters – See the world for free 101.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Miss Tara Rivers First Class trip to South Africa including  food,beverages,zoo safari,transportation and plus 6 nights stay in the Ritz Carlton Presidential Suite  Ci 60,000.00 Dollars;Miss Julie Economy Class trip to South Africa everything included for Ci 12,000.00 Dollars plus her driver/bodyguard/boyfriend additional Ci 15,000.00;Mr Keke Economy Class trip to South Africa everything Included paid for with free miles from the last UDP world tour plus Ci 20,000.00 for recreational gambling;Ms Alden Economy Class Trip to Gibraltar Everything included liquor,lingerie,Xboxes,jewelry,leasing a lexus,Cycling Island  private tour  with Mr Lance Armstrong for Ci 80,000.00 Dollars.

    PPM government first 100 days programs for the unemployed caymanians "PRICELESS and BASELESS"


    • BORN FREE says:

      Of course Tara's trip to Africa is official, that's not a question, she is representing the CIG. But I'd love to know why she is not here as the Labour Minister facing the questions about the extension of the rollover, why is she so far away & what is her view?

    • Anonymous says:

      Enough is enough. Can we petition the UK to come in with a handful of accountants and run the place for the next 5 years?

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you alleging that this is all true, or were you making a joke? 

    • Anonymous says:

      It is 'Official' the trip is a waste of money!

    • Anonymous says:

      You sound like the ex (Herr) diktator, just taking figures out of your head on a whim which bare little resemblance to reality.

  13. Knot S Smart says:

    Glad Alden clarified that she is on official government business…

    I was worried that Immigration in Africa held her up because of her passport…

    Err.. I meant passports…

    • J Salasi I. -111? says:

      Small cracks in the facade are beginning to show.  First no one wanted to say or  did not know why she went,m( no response from the ministry ( wa happen to dem 2 premier assistants) and then sge was on holiday, then Winston could not go etc and not necessary in the same order of occurrence.

      If you start with not talking then with lies you end up doing other things that make you lose ya credibility. 100 days gone, time does not stand still. Remember you ,may,you might or you might not next time around.

  14. Anonymous says:

    The response from Premier's office is an official crock of XXXX. Why lie? Come on PPM get ur stories straight 

    • Anonymous says:

      I don't think they're lying, I Think Mac tried to mislead everyone pretending that she wasn't supposed to be there to waste everyone's time and get a reaction.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Tara Rivers and Winston Connolly:  You are both supposed to be looking at the newspaper for continuous and unquestioned work permit renewal and with the NWDA.  Where are the results?!? How many Caymanians have displaced a WP renewal (answer = zero!) You are failing us and your campaign promises!! 

    TLEP and WP renewals are all that we see! Read the jobs section, a second grader can follow it, why not YOU, the NWDA and the Business Staffing Board?  Tara, do YOUR job and get us qualified Caymanians back to work.  Your South African holiday is over! We want published results please. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I could almost swear that I heard the same Winston that you are referring to talking on Rooster recently along with Alden and Sherri, saying how he supports the government and what they are doing – extending the time for work permit holders to be here for 10 years. If my ears served me right his concern was for the condos/apartments that might be vacated if the government did not extend to the 10 years. So why the heck do you think he would be concerned whether you or I are working or starving?  Wake up folks there are those now in office whose primary concern is not for us Caymanians but are for the financial sector, which does not include the poor unemployed in this country. I'm ready for the march that Lion and Mervin are set to organise. If it takes thousands of Caymanians hitting the streets of these islands in protest against what this government is imposing on us then I'm ready BoBo! Come on Caymanians, stand up!  Its time!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Do we have to have someone (or group) attend every single conference held? It just appears that most of the time these events can be missed. Read the newsletter!!! I know from my own experiences that if you are unable to attend such an event there is always a report on the event that members can purchase or get free that will highlight what was covered. It makes no difference what the new travel policy is, if you have to have someone (group) attend every event then we will still have the unbelievable amounts of cash walking out the door every election cycle under the guise of sending a delegation to this or that "important" event.

    In my opinion, unless we are sending someone to the UK to a negotiation (not just a meeting that can take place over the video conference) then all travelling should be haulted. I got an FOI request you can make – How much money has been spent on travel during this administration's first 100 days, the event attended and was it necessary? – The only travel that was necessary was the first meeting with the UK. There are more important things to be dealt with here at home than taking all these little vacations all from the public's purse. Same foolishness, different administration. SHAMEFUL!!!


  17. Disgusted! says:

    Oh yes, let us micro manage each and every expense.  Come on people get your heads out of your asses and worry about the things that matter! 

    • Anonymous says:

      Obviously, you seem to think this trip was necessary. With so many Caymanians out of work, crime rising, work permits being issued with no consideration, CUC bills and food prices rising can you honestly say that the time and money could not be spent more wisely? It's our government, we have the right to micro manage, especially given the track record of both the previous administrations and the state of the nation.

      Quite honestly, the efforts being made by Mr. Ezzard Miller is what she should be doing, the issue does fall under her portfolio, why not spend the time working with Mr. Miller to solve the problems of unemployment and immigration mis-conduct as it relates to the issuance of work permits. She needs to start the process to ensure that Immigration and the Labor Department work hand in hand and not behind each other's back.  

    • Anonymous says:

      You mean like the country not having any money?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, let's micromanage expenses.

      It is our money and I have to do it with household bills so why shouldn't I do it when I pay their salary!

      In both cases, when something doesn't balance then it is time to get rid of it quickly before it continues to drain.

  18. Jeez Weez says:

    So even if we the taxpayers are not paying for this jaunt we are still paying her salary. Is this really the best use of her time that we are paying for?

  19. Anonymous says:

    yeah… an official jolly…..zzzzzzzzzzz

  20. Jordanian says:

    She should be in cayman tray employ thos 2000 caymanian not working 

    weast time and money 

  21. Anonymous says:

    'Officials admitted'….wow, they didn't know she was going until on behalf of the government until some time later?

    • Anonymous says:

      "Officials admitted" suggests the opposite – that the knew all along and just were not saying.

    • Anonymous says:

      That's CNS wording…probably to make the story seem bigger than it is. They go every year and all of a sudden this is big news? The bigger question is why do they need to attend all these conferences in the first place? What's the REAL benefit?

  22. Anonymous says:

    John & Velma are not going to like this

  23. Anonymous says:

    Lie down with dogs you catch fleas. I can judge you by the company you keep Tara. Go long with Big Mac and Juju. Shame shame shame.

  24. Yagga Boo says:

    Crime killing us and all some find to argue about who travelling? it has always been on the Gowernment dime why you think they run for office for and have we ever had any really positive or good examples or politicians who did not abuse this NO. Same old same old only difference is some a real hypocrites!

  25. Ju Ju says:

    I just asked Tee Tee if she wanted to tek a trip to South Africa. I didn't tink it would mek all unna so riled up.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Poor judgement by Ms. Rivers.

    She just got through a court case and is already galavanting. Suggest she lay low for a while and show some tangible results. There's plenty of work for her to do right here in Cayman which should take priority over these jaunts that provide little or no direct benefit to Caymanians.

    • Caymanian hear hear!! says:

      Hear hear.  Tara, you should be ASHAMED of yourself.  You have done NOTHING in 100 days, but kiss babies, tour the Govt  departments & schools, grab headlines, and go on a jolly!!!

      You and Winston need to roll up your sleeves and sit your butts down at the NWDA (all day, every day and not a fly-by visit)

      Meet with the Business Staffing Board, Meet with the top firms that are top heavy with expats and only have locals as lower management positions, and DO YOUR JOB!  Sheesh, go to the Chamber.  They can help you with time management tools.

      We want results and no more time wasting excuses.  You work for us, now get back to work and your campaign promises.

      You are certainly NOT deserving of your seat so far and this is sad.  Lie down with dogs and you get fleas.  Winston, this goes double for you.  (Roy, good luck on your real trip this week.)

  27. Anonymous says:

    Some clarity coming to the travel policy..who will check that they do what they should?

  28. Anonymous says:


  29. Travel Alert says:

    There was no reason at all for anyone from Cayman to make this trip. Waste of money and time all around.

    But hey, when you got parties in charge, you got plenty partying to do!

    • Caymanian Culture says:

      I've been saying this for years, but the SHEEP keep voting in these power hungry politicians and time wasters!!!  We don't need a 2-Party system. It only fuels "us vs them" and waste, waste, waste….what a farce for 60,000 people.

      Wake up and demand better.  Ask for time sheets and results.  I would love to make CI$95,000 a year as a politician.  WHEN are we going to demand value for money?  Go back to having a custos and a accountants, we would ALL be much better off to get off this carnival ride.