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Mitchell defends trips as foreign minister

  • Fred Mitchell.

Guardian Senior Reporter

Published: Jun 28, 2017

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Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell said yesterday he was “deeply disappointed” that Minister of Foreign Affairs Darren Henfield “thought he had to begin his tenure by apologizing for having to travel”.

“That’s the job,” Mitchell said during debate on the 2017/2018 budget in the Senate.

“A foreign minister travels. That’s what you do.

“I was troubled yesterday that Senator Jamal Moss would raise that as a propaganda point.

“I think he referenced the trips to Ethiopia and Dubai.

“There are cogent reasons for both of those trips.

“Foreign ministers only go because this country wants you to go somewhere. We have allies and friends overseas, and they want you to come to them and help them with things.

“So, sometimes you have to go.”

During his contribution to the budget debate in the House of Assembly recently, Henfield said his ministry will be restructured to ensure unnecessary spending, particularly on travel, is curtailed.

He said there will be no more free lunches at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, adding that “we do not have to attend ... every meeting that takes place across the globe”.

Mitchell was heavily criticized during the Christie administration’s term for the frequency of his travel.

In 2012 alone, Mitchell visited Morocco, Los Angeles, Brazil, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Miami, New York, Washington D.C., the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St. Lucia and South Africa, among other countries – some of them more than once.

While in opposition, the FNM raised concern over Mitchell’s traveling across the globe and made the case that some of those trips were either unnecessary or the delegations were excessive.

In the Senate yesterday, Mitchell stated that it was “not true that he traveled too much”.

“Bahamians are everywhere around the world,” he said.

“Their government can’t be behind them. It has to be in front of them. So let’s not be myopic.

“I don’t expect [our foreign minister] to be travelling in the back of the bus.

“He is the foreign minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. He represents my country.

“He should have the tools to do his job. He should not have to worry about catching taxi or hustling a ride.

“How is he going to pay for his food? His personal security? When he travels, his family is entitled to know he is safe, that The Bahamas provides him with that safety and security while he is serving abroad.

“His wife and children should not have to consume themselves for one minute about the adequacy of where he is staying.”

Mitchell said when the government could not afford for the minister to travel, “I always tell the officials, ‘We staying home, I don’t have to go nowhere. We could stay right here’.”



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