Opposition Senator Kay Bacchus-Baptiste. (iWN file photo)

An opposition senator has called for an audit and reorganisation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ foreign missions even as she raised questions about whether the missions justify money well spent.

Speaking at a town hall meeting in New York on Sunday, Kay Bacchus Baptiste of the New Democratic Party (NDP) noted that her party, in its 2015 election manifesto, said it recognises the importance of the role as a responsible State in the international community.

She further quoted the manifesto as saying: “We will therefore promote and encourage the maintenance of democratic principles and good governance (i.e. transparency, accountability and respect for human rights).

“We will feverishly seek to maintain and establish links with States, international organizations, multilateral corporations and other regional and international bodies for the promotion of peace and stability among nations and the welfare interests of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

“Can we say that of the ULP?” the senator asked, referring to the ruling Unity Labour Party.

Bacchus-Baptiste spoke of what she said was the high cost of operating the SVG embassies and consulates abroad, “at a time when St. Vincent and the Grenadines is in such dire financial straits.

“We need to look at that,” she said, adding that while the ULP has argued for tightening of the belts of its citizens, the administration is “splurging abroad in the embassies”.

“For years, they have told us how crucial it is for us to maintain diplomatic facilities abroad. But are they producing? What have we gained from these diplomatic missions that they have for the 17 years the ULP has been there?

“Isn’t it just a clever backdoor to open up lucrative jobs for their cohorts — the ULP cohorts.”

She asked listeners to consider the cost of official travel and subsistence by government ministers and their entourages.

“My research shows it is in the millions of dollars,” she said and questioned the cost of personal housing for ambassadors and other heads of St. Vincent and the Grenadines consulates?

“Tens of thousands of dollars,” Bacchus-Baptiste said.

“What about their salaries and their allowances and their chauffeur-driven cars? We need to look into these things. And their homes — they look for prime real estate to maintain these homes? How can the ULP justify this with a struggling nation, St. Vincent and the Grenadines in these hard economic times? How can they justify these large sums?”

The senator said that a NDP administration would find a way to restructure the nation’s operations abroad.

“That we can look at trained diplomats and we suggest that we can use students who are studying international relations and these things and train them, get them to help out in the mission, maybe on a pro bono or a stipend basis, rather than employing the daughter of Dr. Gonsalves, the daughter of Jimmy Prince, the daughter of Miguel. It is atrocious.”

Daughters of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and of Minister of Education Jimmy Prince were recently appointed to foreign service posts at the SVG UN Mission.

Meanwhile, a daughter of former deputy prime minister, retired politician Girlyn Miguel was promoted to an ambassador after more than a decade in the foreign service.

She asked what is the benefit of SVG getting a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

“So we can say that we have done this? I am saying that they are splurging our monies and we need to look into it. I am calling for an audit in all these overseas missions — an internal audit. Let us, you the people here, we in St. Vincent; let us call for an internal audit of all the diplomatic missions.”

10 replies on “Senator calls for audit, rethink of SVG’s foreign missions”

  1. For me like all of you SVG Nationals, time is valuable and in putting country first it involves great sacrifice, time money and commitments. For that matter, needless for me to repeat what Senate Bacchus has clearly highlighted in this article, a situation that many of us especially within the diaspora have constantly observed but failed to bring forward.

    I must emphasize that even though I agree with the Senate’s recommendation, she must be aware that her party the NDP has been a perpetrator in embracing this said practice of “splurging abroad in the embassies”.
    Her bringing this to the foreground has given us some encouragement that should the NDP wins the upcoming election; we can count of the deregulation “on high cost of operating the SVG embassies and consulates abroad”.

  2. Very good of Kay Bacchus to bring this topic to the forefront. Yes! it is true, those individuals do and will live in high luxury. We should notice how foreign diplomats live in SVG. They are all on tight budgets! They usually have skeleton staffs. They drive themselves and really have to budget. Why do the SVG people in New York live in total luxury, considering that we are a developing country? If we look at what the government spends for all and any government people to travel all over the Caribbean and the World, we would be shocked when we put it into perspective. If the NDP demonstrates to the people how much the government spends on itself, and consider what that money could instead be used for, they would indeed be speechless! It is shameful!

  3. I guess our foreign diplomats should be living in a flophouse, dumpster diving for clothing and other items, and eating at a soup kitchens.

  4. When we make these comments we must try to avoid our biases and stick to facts. Here is my case:
    1.This present Government has been in power for almost 17 years hence must be made accountable for 17 years of alleged “splurging” on foreign missions..
    2. Using the Canadian experience: I seem to remember a Mr. Providence, then a Mr. Burns Bonadie, followed by a Mr. Brinsley Nickie under the NDP. Mr. Prov. was really a farm worker rep. , Mr. Bonadie did both jobs,(farm worker rep. and Consul….. I mention this because I doubt if he got 2 paycheques! ) and Mr. Nickie was a honorary Consul.(again it is my understanding that Honorary folks do not get the full salary)
    My conclusion is that the person who asserts that the NDP was “splurging in the Embassies” is not using the factual Canadian experience as the basis for her assertion or is being governed by her need to apologize for the past 17 years of “splurging”.

    1. Yes, as patriots, we must be humble enough to apologize for our errors in our ‘assertions’ and so I do at this point. My observations did overlook the comparable mandate of the Canadian embassy within the past 12 years. However, am not knowledgeable to the salary comparison but can only comment on observations related to “splurging in the Embassies”.

      1. It is very honorable of you to admit your mistake of erroneously giving false information Elma. You can never be a politician because they are professional liars and admitting an error is career suicide.
        Nevertheless, it does not matter what the NDP did 20 years ago. It does not mean that the members or the leader will do exactly the same today. That is the “fake news” by so many people that make comments on these articles. They look at what Mitchell did and INSIST Eustace or Friday will do exactly the same. You should not research what the NDP did way back when and insist they will do the same today. Trump is not Bush or Reagan. Obama is not Bill Clinton so why should Friday be Mitchell?

        I notice C. Ben David, in spite of being intelligent tries to tell us that Friday is exactly the same as Mitchell. He has never provided any evidence for his dislike of Friday!

  5. C-Ben should rename himself or herself as “Master Apologist”. There is a vast space between living in a dumpster and the alleged $10,000 Canadian per month in salary plus alleged entertainment and housing allowance (meaning that the rents are actually paid by the Govt. and there may even be a separate “foreign service allowance” .). Let’s be reasonable here. This is too high for the “value” (ambulances and the like!!) received by the people of SVG.. Don’t forget we have no foreign currency to spare! Maybe none at all since we have virtually no exports and a stuttering tourist economy. C.Ben knows this latter point only too well.(lol)

  6. Ricardo Francis says:

    I have commented on this issue before, on the radio and in my online submissions.

    Kay Bacchus-Baptiste is suddenly awake.

    There are so many issues in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that the opposition has failed and or neglected to bring to the public’s attention. What are the main reasons for such failure and neglect?

    In my view, the official opposition lacks the strategic approach and stamina to deal with Ralph and the ULP.

    However, there is always more than what the eyes can see. Just like the old saying: ” There is more in the mortar than the pestle.”

    I am not a member of any political party in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I place country before political parties. Clearly, a political party is one of the key components to forming a government and as such is necessary in any given democracy, but I shall not support a political party, blindly.

    Ricardo Francis, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Waiting and in the Making.

  7. A PARTY FOR RICARDO FRANCIS:

    BUT Ricardo,
    Don’t you ALREADY have a political ‘party’ that you do SUPPORT “blindly”?
    I venture … The RICARDO FRANCIS POLITICAL PARTY.
    Of course, we may have to eagerly/non-eagerly AWAIT the final iteration of the precise, final NAMING.
    But, it IS already there, isn’t it, Mr. Francis?
    Ricardo Francis Party, indeed!

    Always your SVG compatriot
    Steve Huggins
    A simple countryman

  8. Ricardo Francis says:

    Stephen Huggins, I do not know you, personally, and do not believe that we have ever met. A person of your name have contacted me in recent times, seeking information for which I have and or had no knowledge.You may have also referenced my name in other submissions, but I do not have any precise knowledge of who you are, sir. I am of the view that you MAY be a Ralph and ULP supporter in disguise.
    ,
    When the time is right and proper, my political party and or political party that I support will and or shall be disclosed. Assumptions are made, and may be, based upon particular positions, that I may take on an issue that I support one party and or the other. I believe in FREEDOM and DEMOCRACY. I believe in justice and independent thinking.

    I suggest that you should not make any assumptions, for I do not support any political party in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I call a Spade a Spade. I am very fearless and courageous.

    Ricardo Francis, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Waiting and in the Making

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