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HomeLatest NewsGovernment of St Lucia explains external affairs minister Alva Baptiste - ‘PettyCash’...

Government of St Lucia explains external affairs minister Alva Baptiste – ‘PettyCash’ cheque

By Caribbean News Global fav

CASTRIES, St Lucia – Following extensive exposure and the embarrassment of a once “substance of governance” to the acclamation #Putting You First – and as published in Caribbean News Global (CNG) too much discomfort for the leadership of the government of Saint Lucia the op-ed –“ Saint Lucia Labour Party leaders in waiting, ‘found wanting’ – an unusual explanation by the ministry of external affairs was offered.

Saint Lucia Labour Party leaders in waiting, ‘found wanting’

In a press release Thursday, June 15, 2023, the ministry of external affairs, international trade, civil aviation and diaspora affairs “makes reference to an incident which happened on Friday, 9 June 2023, in which images of a government cheque issued to minister Alva Baptiste appeared on social media under seemingly questionable circumstances.”

The ministry of external affairs statement on the incident of the minister’s subsistence – ‘PettyCash’ cheque posted on social media, continued:

“The cheque was issued to meet costs associated with the minister’s attendance at the 53rd regular session of the OAS General Assembly in Washington DC from June 21 – 23, 2023, namely accommodation for seven nights in DC, and meals along with subsistence for the eight 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 postingsI am duty-bound as the 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.”

Addressing concerns about the confidentiality and fidelity of public officials, notably failed to identify – who – I – the administrative head of the ministry is. Thus the presumable secrecy of identifying a public officer is strange.

Potential confidentiality breach

“I – the administrative head of the ministry,” continued:

“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.”

The presumptive understanding of the “in-depth investigation into the incident,” proffered:

“Notwithstanding, the ministry condemns efforts by some to capitalize on the latest glitch to commit political mischief and to mislead,” added, “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.”

It should be noted that presumptuous explanations and reporting of state business; and use of taxpayers’ funds are not confidential and/or top classified state secrets, except for national security considerations.

Anxieties about the amount of the cheque

The unrelenting (un) forced explanation continued:

“Moreover, these rates are differentiated by region; by whether the traveller 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.”

Conversely, the elitist and ‘none-of-your-business’ explanation, discreetly advised:

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 seven nights and the remaining EC$5,868.40 (or USD$2,160) is for meals and subsistence for eight days.” 

The affront to taxpayers was fastened here-in:

“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 US currency is US$4,917. What is lavish about that?queried the ministry of external affairs press release – [“I – the administrative head of the ministry“] working and providing information to the Saint Lucian public.

There are pertinent reasons for the Freedom of Information Act and Access to Information.

*****

Updated

On Wednesday, June 21, 2023, the ministry of external affairs issued a revised statement “ on incident of minister’s subsistence cheque posted on social media.”

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