Weeks: ‘Money Could Have Been Better Spent’

October 29, 2016

“The fact that the OBA can find tens of thousands of dollars for Rio trips is reflective of a Government that promised fiscal responsibility and in many ways have failed to deliver,” Shadow Minister of Health and Community Affairs Michael Weeks said, adding that ““With community organizations, sports clubs and schools struggling to find financing to maintain programs and facilities, this money could have been better spent on our people and their development.”

Over $37,000 Spent On Trips To Rio

Mr Weeks comments follow after Minister of Social Development & Sports Sylvan Richards and his Permanent Secretary’s trip to Rio for the Olympics which cost over $31,000, with another $6,312 spent to fund Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin trio to Rio, as her trip was booked prior to the reassignment of Cabinet portfolios.

Michael Weeks Comments

Mr Weeks said, “With so many Bermudians out of work and the OBA doubling the debt in less than 4 years, every penny spent by the Government must be handled in a fiscally competent manner.

“With continued cuts to programs benefiting our youth and seniors, the fact that the OBA can find tens of thousands of dollars for Rio trips is reflective of a Government that promised fiscal responsibility and in many ways have failed to deliver.

“Also falling short on the transparency they promised the people of Bermuda, the previous comments by Minister Richards’ spokesperson, Minister Gordon-Pamplin, and Premier Dunkley still leave more questions than answers.

“Adding the most recent revelation, that over $5,400 was paid by tax payers for unused hotel rooms, is has become imperative that Minister Richards and the OBA Government provide the people with some real answers.

“What is the real story behind the money spent on this trip and why won’t the OBA give Bermuda straight answers as to how this level of incompetence could be allowed to occur?

“Was Minister Richards aware that Minister Gordon Pamplin had already booked a trip to Rio when she occupied that Cabinet post?

“As Minister Gordon-Pamplin only booked a ticket for herself when Minister of Social Development and Sport, was it possible for Minister Richards to travel alone?

“Why did Minister Richards and his Permanent Secretary request a reimbursement for the costs of unused hotel rooms, and why were these reimbursements paid out?

“With the statement from Minister Richards’ spokesperson, and the hotels’ subsequent denial, clarity is needed on the necessity of booking rooms for nights the Minister and his Permanent Secretary were not in Rio.

“Despite continued deflection attempts, the OBA must truly provide the transparency they promised, and explain to the people how an oversight this expensive could take place.

“With community organizations, sports clubs and schools struggling to find financing to maintain programs and facilities, this money could have been better spent on our people and their development.

“The picture painted by revelations into the Rio junket taken by Minister Richards is not a pretty one and should concern every Bermudian, and not just the ones who already believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.”

Previous Comments From The Premier

Premier Michael Dunkley addressed the matter last month, saying: “In 2014, as Premier I set up the web page enabling the public to see the cost of travel by Government ministers. They are instructed to post their costs as soon as possible after the travel, and this has been done without fail.

“It is through this travel web site that the public was able to learn about the cost of the Rio trip – exactly as the webpage was intended to work, with Government ministers reporting back to the people.

“This is the backdrop against which the Rio trip took place. To the many who’ve weighed in on this matter, I say: “We hear you. We get it.” And, I would add, “We’re actually on the same page.” What the situation says to me is that despite our progress, we still have a ways to go to make the system work as intended.

In this instance, we got caught between the cost of a relatively late booking due to ministerial changes, an extremely expensive destination due to the Olympics and our duty to support Bermudians competing in the world’s biggest sporting event. Have we learned from this episode? You bet, no question.

“The concerns expressed are well founded. There was clearly room for more oversight and cost efficiency and this will be discussed at the Cabinet table and with the Civil Service Executive.”

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Comments (47)

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  1. Four says:

    All the construction OVER RUNS money could’ve been spent in better places also.

    • reddamtibi says:

      True – But they were elected because they said they would resolve things such as this…does not make it any better now that the “red team” are doing it…

      • Build a Better Bermuda says:

        It is disturbing that the OBA let such a spending occur, they have been far more prudent and responsible with their expenditures than the PLP ever managed to be, and this is reflected in the fact that they annually spend less on travel than the PLP did. So for this spending to occur should be a lesson that there still needs to be better reviews of travel costs prior to. It is also important that we do have some level of governement representation at international events like the Olympics, so there should be an expectation that there will be government travel spending occurring when they come around. We also have to understand that air fare and accommodation during travel to these events will be greater, and sometimes multiplied more times than we might think. Airlines and hotels often see these events as a opportunity to increase their rates, particularly for last minute bookings, and with the quantityof people atttending such events, and everyone looking for a deal, more often than not, what is left for last minute bookings is the higher end seats and accommodations. While the OBA certainly doing better than the PLP managed to with governement affairs spending, this incident highlights the need to better.

    • Will-Not-Let-This-Die!! says:

      …..and still the OBAers live in the past instead of condone the story written of!
      Time to change your narrative folks *yawn*

    • steve says:

      ” Vote For real Bermuda the PLP because will not promise to adhere to fiscal responsibility or any financial checks whatsoever!”

  2. Really says:

    Wow! I would think the PLP would be embarrassed to speak on the matter wasting money, please somebody that has the facts post what the PLP spent on travel and Victoria’s Secret in their 14 years. Why do people not understand when the PLP came in, we had 100million in the bank, and when they left we were a billion in debt, please understand they have NO clue on Finances!

    • reddamtibi says:

      True – But they were elected because they said they would resolve things such as this…does not make it any better now that the “red team” are doing it…

    • And how much SpongeBob has spent in 4 years?
      LMFAO

      • Hidden Genda says:

        OnionJuice. The difference between the OBA and PLP was obvious from day ONE. The day that the PLP took office the FIRST thing they did was announce a public holiday. The cost to the public purse for government labour, contracts was…$4million dollars so they could party. Day ONE of the OBA being government they got to work paying for those parties , concerts, sponsorship of things like parties at the Playboy mansion, trips to Asia with bodyguards.

    • Smh says:

      So what you’re saying is,, the opposition should allow the current government to go unchecked… great solution.. really.

  3. thetruth says:

    This is “we have 100 buyers lined up for Grand Atlantic” Weeks.
    He knows all about how money can be wasted. He’s an expert in the subject.

    • reddamtibi says:

      True – But they were elected because they said they would resolve things such as this…does not make it any better now that the “red team” are doing it…

      By now you die hard red hatter are getting the drift yes? Please do not paint me green by the way – I am just fed up of the hypocrisy many people who claim to care about Bermuda’s well-being and image have when it is one of their own doing the wrong…

      No one on this forum has yet to even speak to the issue of these cost excesses…rather they would like to misdirect, change the narrative and look to the ill-doings of the past – while the same ill-doings are being made in the present.

      Lets see how far this attitude gets us…

      • Reason Able says:

        The reason why the opposition knows what was spent is because of policies put in place by the OBA so that nothing is hidden. As a result of changes made by the OBA we (and the opposition) have access to what was spent on trips, who went, how it was spent and why?

        Perhaps if the PLP had put similar policies in place we would know where more of our money was spent. According to the AG The PLP cant even explain where 800 mils $ were spent.

      • Zevon says:

        So you think wasting $60m is forgivable, but $5,000 is not. They’re both irritating, but don’t you find $60m slightly more significant?

    • Will-Not-Let-This-Die!! says:

      …..and still the OBAers live in the past instead of condone the story written of!
      Time to change your narrative folks *yawn*

      • Zevon says:

        I think it’s comparing $60,000,000 to $5,000. There is a difference.

      • steve says:

        Some of us have the ability to be vexed by this OBA expense while simultaneously cringing at the PLP finger waving on financial issues.

  4. Rio lly PLP says:

    Odd statement Mr. Weeks from a man involved with the same political party that to this day has Eight Hundred MILLION dollars that are unaccounted for! That equates to around $156,00 MISSING for every single day that the PLP was responsible for the public purse.

    That does even begin to touch on how wasted money.

    True, the OBA could have planned better but you certainly would be the first to complain if nobody attended. Had they planned better perhaps we could have saved $5-10K.

    Now Mr. Weeks, or any other PLP Minister, supporter or anyone that has access to figures, please show us what was spent when the previous government spent during their own visits to the Olympics. Don’t talk about how you could do better, we all know that this could have been handled better. Show me how you have done better.

    I and others await your TRUE figures.

    Or will I hear crickets….

    • Will-Not-Let-This-Die!! says:

      Are you even an eligible voter here??? Or you a racist guestworker who under the UBP given unlimited renewals of a visa now feeling entitled to Stuston here???
      Yet still one of the “pre-judice” Bermudians who believe themselves superior to others???

  5. Warlord says:

    Yes the money could have been spent more wisely,but coming from a PLP backbencher is a laugh in its self.
    PS Legalize expats

    • Will-Not-Let-This-Die!! says:

      Oh that’s right only they OBA are concerned with the average Bermudian and entitled expat seek OUR status to change the Quo!

      You are laughable trying to disguise yourselves

      • Zevon says:

        When you talk about “entitled expat”, that’s Tweed, right?

  6. Garry M says:

    They keep crying about how much money the OBA spends WHY don’t talk about how much money the PLP spent with all their body guards and their friends
    and consultants all those years

  7. Triangle Drifter says:

    WOW! A great example of opening mouth before putting mind into gear. Week’s crowd is responsible for some $800mil UNACCOUNTED for. Then there is that little debt that costs us over a half $mil per DAY to service, & he wants to speak on a junket to Rio!!!!

    Sometimes it is better to remain silent & let people think of you a f–l than to speak up & remove any doubt.

    • Unaccounted
      LNFAO

      • Hidden Genda says:

        Glad you think 800million dollars unaccounted for is funny. Maybe you wished we would forget or maybe in your mind its not unaccounted for because you know where “some of it went” .

  8. sage says:

    Make Richards pay it back, or dock his pay.

    • Hidden Genda says:

      Sure, as long you ask the same of the previous government.

  9. Four says:

    Check the dislikes.. amazing so predictable..

  10. karen says:

    PLP DID A LOT WORSE WHEN THEY WERE IN POWER AND WHY WHERE THE SCHOOLS NOT DONE ON THEIR WATCH ALWAYS BLAMING SOMEONE OR SOMETHING, AND STILL TO THIS DAY HAVE NOT ACCOUNTED FOR ALL THE MONIES THEY SPENT, WELL GUESS THEY FIGURE THEY DON’T HAVE TO ANSWER TO ANYONE FOR THAT AS USUAL, GUESS THEY FIGURE IF THEY GET BACK IN AGAIN THEY WONT HAVE MONIES TO SPEND ON THEMSELVES

  11. Northshore says:

    Weeks like Tweed are not qualified to speak on anything to do with Government! Noise boxes!

  12. Rocky says:

    Weeks next time think before you shame others.

  13. SUPPORT NO PARTY says:

    Do you guys really think that the PLP should not talk about this? All you ever do is say what they did wrong, but never want to admit all the things the OBA have done wrong already in their first few years.

    • Hidden Genda says:

      What we think is that this was unnecessary because the OBA and the ministers responsible had already spoke on the issue. If you bothered to read the Bernews article above you will notice the part that read PREVIOUS comments from the Premier. In addition the ministers themselves had already explained what happened. Furthermore the breakdown of how monies were spent is available for all to see thanks to changes made by the OBA. If nothing was hidden, the expenses were listed, and an explanation given detailing who, what, when, and why we ask what was his true agenda. Is he out of the loop? Does he not read the news? Or is he try to distract?

  14. Kiskadee says:

    The amount of money spent by Sylvan Richards and his Permanent secretary is disgraceful . They should be made to return all that was spent . They make huge salaries and there are so many people struggling in Bermuda .We are in so much debt. But this will all be swept under the carpet .As an OBA supporter I am not impressed with how weak the OBA has become . They give in all the time to PLP and BIU when they should be standing strong .

  15. Hurricane says:

    OBA voters were tricked into thinking they would get change. Hopefully they have learned that (especially in politics) the more things change, the more they stay the same.

    • Hidden Genda says:

      There has been change! The mere fact that we now know where the money was spent and by who. You know where they went, why they went, who went along and how each dollar was spent. In the past we could criticize because we didn’t have the right to know.

  16. robert stewart says:

    That great newspaper man HL Mencken whose acid wit entertained millions of Americans between the 1920s and 1950s said it best, and he could have been speaking about what he called the “wowsers and snouters” of 2016 in Bermuda.
    Mencken saw clearly the fallacy of treating government officials as uniquely motivated by the public good:

    QUOTE These men, in point of fact, are seldom if ever moved by anything rationally describable as public spirit; there is actually no more public spirit among them than among so many burglars or street-walkers. UNQUOTE.

    Says it all I think.

  17. John says:

    If only we had not spent 1 million on Beyoncé

    • Will-Not-Let-This-Die!! says:

      If only you were not stuck on stupid

    • Hidden Genda says:

      $1 mil was beyoncees fee. I believe total spent on the other three acts, advertising , tents, sound, accomodations etc was closer to 4 million.

  18. Comfortably numb says:

    PLP members are qualified to comment on pretty much every topic bar one: wasting money.

    • Will-Not-Let-This-Die!! says:

      For those unable to grasp the political obligations from parties
      Maybe change you handle to Comfortably dumb!

  19. mmm says:

    According to a comment, there was a 100 million in the bank when the PLP took over…I wonder what projects were undertaken during their 14 years, and what was in progress at the time of their coming in as the new government. Further , was the cost of these projects. Did Cedarbridge and Berkeley cost 40 million, dockyard 10 million Sandys 15 million, The Court building 18 million, a new prison 20 million, airport runway re-surfacing 5 million, the TCD bldg. 10 million, the incinerator Tynes Bay 20 million, was not one of banks loaned or given 200 million. Were all these projects deemed necessary, and were some of these projects already on line to start by the UBP when they lost the election.