The trip by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and his delegation to attend the Summit of the Americas in the United States in June this year cost just over $684,000.
Opposition MP Rodney Charles had filed a question in the Parliament on September 9 to Finance Minister Colm Imbert asking for details on the trip, including those in attendance, the cost and the benefits to Trinidad and Tobago.
In a written response, the Finance Minister provided a breakdown of the expenditure, which added up to $684,645.61.
The Ninth Summit of the Americas was held in California from June 6 to 10. The theme was “Building a sustainable, resilient and equitable future”. The prime minister was accompanied by 11 people. The composition of the delegation and the costs accrued are as follows:
1. Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley—$139,659.59
2. Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne—$84,259.42
3. Energy Minister Stuart Young—$84,259.42
4. Retired Brigadier General Anthony WJ Phillips-Spencer, Ambassador of T&T to the US, Permanent Representative of T&T to the OAS, and National Coordinator for the Summits of the Americas Process—$60,593.72
5. Kirk Francois, deputy permanent secretary (Ag,), Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs—$38,447.70
6. Urvashi Ramnarine, Director, Americas Division, Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs, and Deputy National Coordinator for the Summits of the Americas Process—$38,447.70
7. Ruedi Trouchen, Second Secretary, Embassy T&T to the US, and Alternate Representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the OAS—$50,463.77
8. Joan Brammer, Public Affairs and Culture Attaché, Embassy of T&T to the US—$25,134.42
9. Abby Brathwaite, deputy press secretary, Office of the Prime Minister—$38,447.70
10. Ken Sambury, videographer, Office of the Prime Minister—$38,447.70
11. Franklyn Batson, corporal, Trinidad and Tobago Police Service—$38,447.70
12. Kerwin Ramnath, corporal, Trinidad and Tobago Police Service—$48,036.77
With respect to the benefits to Trinidad and Tobago, Imbert emphasised the importance of this country’s attendance, stating that participation would ensure this country’s voice is heard, and its concerns incorporated in the action plan.
One of the benefits listed was securing Trinidad and Tobago’s interests in the outcome documents which were only finalised the day before the Ninth Summit of the Americas.
He stated Brig Phillips-Spencer was active in the negotiations of the five Summit declarations on health and resilience, digital transformation, clean and renewable energy, a green future and democratic governance, which are all areas which countries in the western hemisphere have agreed to prioritise in their engagement and efforts to shape a better future.
Another benefit stated was the opportunity to hold meetings with key officials in the US government.
The minister stated the most important meeting was the one between US Vice President Kamala Harris on June 8, 2022, and heads of government of Caricom countries and the Dominican Republic to discuss the challenges the Caribbean region is facing.
The result, he stated, was the establishment of three joint working groups on food security, energy security and financing which will delve into the specifics and develop strategies for support.
Imbert noted these working groups started meeting on July 12, 2022, and Trinidad and Tobago has taken the lead on the energy security committee for the region.
Similarly, Guyana has taken the lead on food security, and Barbados on financing.
The minister further stated bilateral meetings were held at the level of head of government and minister of foreign affairs, with their counterparts from various countries, to advance discussions on ongoing issues as well as new priorities which Trinidad and Tobago is pursuing now.
Some of these countries include the US, Canada, Peru, Argentina, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Panama.
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