Government junkets should be junked

By Kambes Kesolei

In the past few weeks, we have seen several trips by high government officials that involve large entourage costing the public large amount of money. These government travel obligation may be necessary but to entail such large group goes against our commitment to “live within our means.”

The president took an important trip New York to attend the 65th United Nations General Assembly. However, his entourage consisted of seven members – a large size considering our financial condition at the moment. A conservative estimate would place one member of the entourage at average expense of $5,000 including airfare and per diem. We are talking a combined expense of over $30,000. Ironically, upon their return they reported that Palau’s overseas missions abroad are underfunded.

Another trip took place the previous weekend to attend the Independence Day party in Guam on October 10 held Paseo Park. Five flew on government expense which can be added up to a total of $5,000. What exactly were we doing in Paseo, escapes me.

A recent investment conference in Manila last week was attended by more than 20 government officials. Participating government entities with representatives attending were large autonomous body including PNC, PPUC, PCC, Pension Plan, and Social Security. Others include Koror State government and members of the OEK – House of Delegates and the Senate, and the president of Palau.

However, several of the participants went a week earlier ahead of the scheduled October 14-15 date of the conference. Expenses that are complete waste.

If each spent an average of about two thousand dollars for airfare, per diem, and transportation then we are looking at $50,000 of public money spent for the conference.

Add up the costs of just these recent junkets these past few weeks and we are talking closer to $100,000 spent.

Perhaps the last payday should have been a wake-up call.  The public is furious not because of the gargantuan budget deficits, but in spite of, we are taking ever more public expenses trip while looking to close the gap by looking to add more taxes on the already stretched paychecks of the majority of the people.

One Comment to “Government junkets should be junked”

  1. Greetings: This is a good piece.

    I hope it’s also published in the newspapers where folks read it, have a chance to think about and discuss it in public. This excuse of a government calling itself the “Government of Belau” amounts to a simple racket and Johnson Toribiong and his cronies are a bunch of racketeers and racketeering!

    We have the free use of the PEACESAT* that connects to other satellites around the world that can, in turn, connect government leaders to meetings and conferences around the world. We should use it more, to lessen the financial burden on the republic. The Internet also provides opportunities for similar real-time conferencing with international events where we can stay home and learn as much as we can.

    Sending officials to international gatherings could be set aside for the most important events where either the minister of foreign affairs or the head of state are required to be there to sign something.

    *The Pan-Pacific Education and Communication Experiments by Satellite or “PEACESAT” has been working to lessen the information and communication technology (ICT) divide in the Pacific Islands region for over 30 years. The mission of PEACESAT is to facilitate “development” and “public service” communications.

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