The sum of $868,268.11.
This is the total amount of public funds spent between June 1 and March 31 on Vidwatie Newton, sister of the Prime Minister, who serves as her travel assistant.
This was revealed in the House of Representatives yesterday by Leader of Government Business Dr Roodal Moonilal, in response to a question from Opposition MP Donna Cox. He said the money was used for airfare, hotel accommodation, meals and incidentals while on official overseas travel with the Prime Minister.
He said Newton was the qualified nurse who accompanies the Prime Minister on overseas travel and performs related duties, as well as scheduling coordinator to ensure the Prime Minister's presence and attendance at specific functions and activities.
Newton accompanied the Prime Minister on 11 different trips—to Miami, Jamaica ($40,235.70); New York ($45,480.90), Washington ($21,783.49), London ($60,440), Washington ($32,022.75), Brazil ($21,881.00), St Kitts ($11,461), Australia ($338,329.19) and India ($233,645). The most expensive trip was to Australia.
Moonilal had stated in response to another question that the post of travel assistant to the Prime Minister was not an established post created by Cabinet.
Asked by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley whether Newton travelled as travel assistant or nurse, Moonilal said she performed several duties which may or may not include her professional duties.
Meanwhile, Minister of Energy Kevin Ramnarine revealed the total cost incurred by all the agencies under his portfolio for the Prime Minister's visit to India was $2.9 million. Some 16 people, including the Minister, went to India. The officials included Petrotrin chairman Lindsay Gillette, NP chairman Neil Gosine and NGC president Sydney Andrew McIntosh (husband of People's National Movement MP Patricia McIntosh).
Fazal Karim, Minister of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education, said the total cost of expenses incurred by agencies under his portfolio for the Prime Minister's trip to India was $1.2 million. Nine officials from UWI, UTT, Niherst, YTEPP and iGovTT participated in the trip, including UWI principal Clement Sankat, UTT chairman Curtis Manchoon, Niherst chairman Jwala Rambarran, YTEPP chairman Chandar Gupta Supersad and chairman of iGovTT Atiba Phillips.
Public Utilities Minister Emmanuel George said his ministry spent $200,860 for him; $304,961 for TSTT officials. This included costs for bmobile ambassadors Brian Lara ($82,120.30) and Darren Ganga ($75,401.85).
Meanwhile, Tobago Development Minister Vernella Alleyne-Toppin said, in response to another question, that the total amount expended by her Ministry for expenses incurred by her at the Hyatt Regency hotel from June 2010 to the present was $41,177.84.
She explained that she stayed at the Hyatt in July 2010 following her appointment as Minister because no accommodation had been arranged in the first month of her term.