September 29, 2016

Govt advised to buy aircraft fleet as costs soar

APNU/AFC’s ministerial travelmania

In light of the soaring charter costs, a senior government official has recommended that Guyana invest in purchasing its own fleet of aircraft to transport the President and other government officials.
This was confirmed by Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman, who disclosed that the suggestion was made by Finance Ministry official, Tarachand Balgobind.

Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman

Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman

Speaking at post-Cabinet briefing on Thursday, the minister said  Balgobind made the suggestion during the 2016 budgetary preparation talks due to the frequent travel of staffers from the Ministries of Natural Resources, Agriculture and Communities.
“He (Balgobind) said from a cost benefit analysis, it seemed best and in fact, he said he will investigate whether or not it made sense for us to own and maintain a fleet of aircraft because the amount that’s being spent on charters is high but these are necessary for us to be able to access the 10 regions,” Trotman noted.
However, the Natural Resources Minister pointed out that no steps have been taken by his administration to make such a purchase. “Not to my knowledge, but all things are possible. As I said I can only deal with what takes place within the realms of Cabinet… nothing is before Cabinet but nothing, at the same time, is being ruled out because that suggestion did come from Mr Tarachand Balgobind himself,” he remarked.
Asked whether the recommendation was for domestic travel or both domestic and international, Trotman responded saying “for use”.
Moreover, the Minister opted not to make any personal pronouncement on the matter. He said, “I’m a servant of the government, if the government provides an aircraft for me to go to Aishalton, I take it. So it is not for me to find favour or disfavour with it. I got to do my job as any other ministers have to with theirs,” he remarked.
At present, Guyana has no state-owned aircraft or airline, thus, government would rack up hefty bills when travelling locally and internationally.
Since the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) assumption to office in May last year, concerns have been raised from time to time about the funding of the trips of ministers abroad and in many instances the new government has failed to properly inform the populace as to the scope and nature of the trips overseas which they often claim are either totally or partially funded by unknown private individuals.
In other democracies, the quantum of funding from private funding would have to be released to the public.

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