CPA trip to South Africa cost public purse 13K

| 03/10/2013

(CNS): The recent trip to the annual Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, by Speaker of the House Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush and Education Minister Tara Rivers cost the public purse just over CI$13k, according to records released by the Legislative Assembly. As the regional representative for the Caribbean, Americans and Atlantic and a member of the Executive Committee, O’Connor-Connolly’s flight was paid for by the international CPA. The speaker cost the public purse just $1,650 in total for her expense allowance. However, the public purse paid for the flights for both Bush, who delivered two papers at the conference, and Tara Rivers, who attended but did not present.

Rivers' flight cost $4,232.21 and the flight for the opposition leader was $3,868.75. Both were also given an expense allowance of $1,650. Accommodation for all of the Cayman delegates was also provided for by the CPA.

The trip stirred up considerable controversy for Rivers in particular, as the education and employment minister had been away from her desk for several weeks before the ten day trip as a result of a legal battle challenging her eligibility to run for office. The minister was also criticised for leaving the islands at a time of rising unemployment and numerous challenges relating to scholarships and teaching issues at the start of the school year.

As the regional representative O’Connor- Connolly was expected to attend and the local branch of the CPA had opted to send the opposition leader after he was invited by the international CPA to give two presentation papers, one on ethical tax-raising in small states and a second on self-determination.

The local membership also made the decision to send Winston Connolly as its third delegate, as a new member of the LA. However, at some point after that meeting Connolly was replaced by Rivers.

The public disclosure of the education minister’s decision to go to Johannesburg was not made until the minister was missing from her seat when the Legislative Assembly met to deal with outstanding supplementary appropriation issues. Despite two previous occasions when government could have detailed Rivers' decision to go, it appeared that her trip was kept under wraps.

As a result of the backlash, on her return Rivers issued a lengthy statement in which she accused the media of sensationalizing her trip and of gender discrimination as she attempted to justify her reasons for going. However, the statement was greeted with considerable skepticism, and with almost a 140 comments on the CNS report relating to her statement, only a handful appeared to defend the new minister. 

See document released relating to expenses for CPA trip below and check back to CNS tomorrow for details of Bush’s presentations.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Its amazing how much money they cut from civil servants pay for these trips!! All 3 of them didnt need to go!!!



  2. Anonymous says:

    Why did Tara go?  She should refund the government for her expenses.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Could somebody please explain exactly what that 13K purchased for us, the taxpayers? I mean, I buy a car for 13K. So, I've now got a car. What do we, the public, have – anything, or just a lot of hot air?

    • Anonymous says:

      Hot air is one of the few things on earth that is still free and valueless, especially the kind that comes from folks like you.

  4. Anonymously says:

    The costs were very reasonable and this was money well spent. Well done and please continue to make the the spending as transparent as possible.

    • Anonymous says:

      I will decide it is Money well spent when I see something tangible or some economic gain to the islands. Until then, I would not put your money where your mouth is.

      Produce something or get them out of power quicker than it takes to get them in. That applies to the entire spectrum of pensioners currently at the trough.

  5. Anon says:

    They got priorities all messed up.

    While cayman is burning down they all out galavanting racking air miles and spending other people money. What was the benefit to these islands?  cns please tell us if JuJu bodyguard was there with them and who paid for that?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Her traveling never benefited the country crime or unemployment problem! They all had solutions while they were campaigning, now is the time to prove yourself or get voted out the next time! Bracka

    • anonymous says:

      You don't have to wait that long. There are mechanisms in place to remove err waste.

  7. Anonymous says:

    if travel is not required to keep the island running then i don't agree that travel is necessary…while attending the CPA is great fun, did it really help slash our deficit, or increase gross domestic product?  If the answer is no, then the travel should be off the table

  8. Anonymous says:

    And why did the even have to go to South Africa??? They spend more travelling then dealing with the islands problems…remember the expression Same s… different day…we got same s…..different government…no different today than what it was a few months back

    • Anonymous says:

      Difference is we are not paying extra for wives families friends and general entourage that used to go with the MLA, look at the Panama party, 32 peopl went and only 16 rooms booked, do you think 2 starngers shared a room? nope we paid for everyones spouse to go to, all expenses paid for.

      Paying 2.5 fares is a lot better than 20

      Remember the Mobile phone conference in Barcelona, we had about 16 attendees!

    • Anonymous says:

      I was disappointed to see that one ticket was bought through a travel agent and cost more than the one booked by CAL.  What happened to govt policy to book direct with the national airline!

      • Anonymous says:

        Who boojed this ticket?  The individual should be named, shamed and surcharged the extra cost.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I'm sorry, but if their flights were paid for and thier accommodation paid for, then what the h**l did they need $1650 a day for. Some people in Cayman don't even make that in one month!!!!

    CNS: I've amended the article which hopefully makes this clearer – the delegates were each given a daily allowance which amounted to $1,650 in total for each person.

    • Capt. Obvious says:

      Haven't you ever travelled before? Obviously they had to eat, pay taxi fares, and tip the bellman etc.!

      • Anonymous says:

        We are truly blessed. Used to be they had a $10,000.00 a day casino allowance.

      • Anonymous says:

        yes that is true, however how the article originally read was that they were each given an allowance of $1,650 per day for expensise. I'm sorry, but that is a very expensive meal, one hell of a lot of taxi rides and one very huge tip for the bell man.


        With the article now having been amended, $1,650 allowance for thier entire trip makes much more sense.

    • Anonymous says:

      CNS any one with a grain of common sense understood. People here need to understand that politicians and other officials will have to travel from time to time. We live on an island and our people will always have to go overseas to do business for us and to attend conferences etc. To think that politicians should stay on islands all the time and do not show up on occasions is ludicrous. Conference calls and Emeetings are useful but is not the be all and end all. Face to face is necessary. At least we know where they are going and once they come back we know how much they spent and on what it was spent. Which one of you if you were elected would stay on this Rock for the duration of your tenure and not attend conferences, meetings and the like. Being involved in what government does and keeping them on their toes is one thing but people trying to micro-manage from your arm chairs is rediculous and serve absolutely no purpose.

      • Anonymous says:

        It would be a good thing if the Politicians and Speakers of the House was gaining something for us the people but these expensive trips and nothing in return for us is a shame.Ju Ju is not giving up on her trips though. By the way did Paul accompany her this time?

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, politicians need to travel but Cayman politicians travel and what are the results of their travels? These people are just using their office and position as an excuse to travel the world no cost to them. Tara did not represent, well why did she have to go?? I am sure that one person who represented or presented could return to the island better informed and share that information and put into practice what was learned if thatwas the reason for the trip.

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree that some travel is necessary however I see no reason of JuJu's two companions…one just ranted about self-determination (independence) and the other did nothing and hadn't attended to her ministry since being appointed. We also need to look at the quality of representatives we are sending…certain of our elected officials should really stay here as they are really making Cayman look like a monkey republic whenever they travel and speak.

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually I do agree that politicians need to travel and I do have a fair few grains of common sense. As such CNS have now amended their article. Before hand it stated that each person was given a daily allowance of $1,650, which, if they didn't have to pay for accommodation or airline tickets, seemed like an awful lot of money for a daily allowance. As such it was a daily allowance that totalled $1,650 for thier trip. So please don't try and get on your high horse about whether or not people have common sense or not.