Opposition senator and caretaker of the West St George constituency Kay Bacchus-Baptiste has called for all of this country’s diplomatic missions to be edited.
Senator Bacchus-baptiste made the call while addressing a town hall meeting Baptisteork on Sunday night.
“The high cost of operating all St Vincent and the Grenadines embassies and consulates abroad at a time when the country is in such dire financial straits, we need to look at that. While this government, the ULP government, has argued for tightenting the belts of its citizens, they are splurging abroard in their embassies. For years they’ve told us how crucial it is that we must maintain diplomatic communities abroad. But, are they producing? What have we gained from these diplomatic missions abroad 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?” senator Bacchus-Baptiste said.
Bacchus-Baptiste raised the issue of costs for official travel and subsistence expenses like ministers and their entourages.
“What is that cost? My research shows it is the millions of dollars. What is the cost of personal housing for ambassadors and other heads of St Vincent and the Grenadines consulates? Tens of thousands of dollars. What about their salaries and allowances and their chaffeur-driven cars? We need to look into these things,” Bacchus-Baptiste said, adding that the diplomats look for prime real estate for them to live.
“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?” she asked. .
Bacchus-Baptiste said the ULP government has employed additional staff members at the diplomatic mission in New York as the government step up its campaign seeking to become a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. She asked how is this country going to benefit.
“I am saying that they are splurging our monies and we need to look into it… I am calling for an audit on all these overseas missions. You the people here, you the people in St Vincent, let us call for an internal audit for all the diplomatic missions.’ Bacchus-Baptiste stated..
Bacchus-Baptiste said an NDP government “will find a way to restructure these operations abroad.”
The opposition Senator is proposing, as a cost-cutting measure, that students who have studied International Relations can be trained as diplomats and employed at the diplomatic missions giving their service pro bono (free) or on a stipend basis.