Speech

The hotel rates quoted in a newspaper article on Sunday July 31, 2005 for the Prime Minister’s accommodation on his November 2002 visit to New York are within the limits that he is allowed and are by no means excessive. Contrary to what was stated in the article, the rates that Mr. Patterson is allowed do not afford him the views of Central Park and he has always opted to stay at hotels where the rates are modest and where his personal staff can also afford to be accommodated. Like all guests, the Prime Minister is required to pay the gratuity prescribed by the hotel.
It is also necessary that the Jamaican people understand that the Prime Minister’s accommodation must meet the security requirements of the country that he is visiting.
The use of a private aircraft to transport the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, the Security Team and personal staff to Monterrey, Mexico in January 2004 actually saved the Jamaican taxpayers over US$5,000 representing the cost of overnight en-route to and from Mexico. In addition, the delegation saved four days of travel time. The Prime Minister headed the Jamaican delegation to the Summit of the Americas Meeting where leaders of the hemisphere discussed matters relating to sustainable economic development and the reduction of poverty and hunger.
With respect to the visit to Cuba in 2003, the Prime Minister and his delegation were accommodated at a villa. His support staff prepared meals for the entire Jamaican delegation and thereby reduced the amount which would have to be spent in a hotel for meals.
The per diem rates were fixed by the outgoing Seaga Administration and have not been adjusted since March 1989, despite the escalation in prices and hotel rates. In fact, the Prime Minister has not, during the period 2001-2004, obtained the full per diem to which he is entitled by virtue of the approved rates.
I am making available to you the per diem rates for the Prime Minister, Ministers of Government as well as other categories of public officers which have been in effect since 1989 and hope that you will publish this information in full.
I hope that this response will assure the Jamaican people that Prime Minister Patterson continues to carry out his fiduciary responsibility with the utmost care and regard for the Jamaican people.