Saint Lucia
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‘I Am One Of The Least Travelled Ministers In the OECS’ – St. Lucia Times

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External Affairs Minister Alva Baptiste has responded to criticism of his overseas travels, declaring that within the OECS, he is one of the Ministers that travels the least.

“I can say to you; I am one of the least travelled Ministers in the OECS,” Baptiste told reporters this week on the sidelines of a Cabinet meeting.

“The kind of places foreign ministers go to. They go all over the place seeking support for their country’s development,” the Laborie MP stated.

Baptiste said he attends meetings concerning treaty obligations, including the Organization of American States General Assembly and the Caribbean Community regarding foreign and trade policy coordination.

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He said he uses these opportunities to engage with bigger countries.

“I know we have limited resources. I do not say, ‘Prime Minister, I want to go to Japan,’ and I just pick up and go,” the External Affairs Minister stated.

“Sometimes Japan comes to CARICOM meetings and I seek a bilateral meeting to discuss our issues,” Baptiste said.

He explained that other bilateral talks occur at the United Nations General Assembly.

Baptiste said he did not like to blow his trumpet and engage in fuss and fanfare.

However, he told reporters that it was on the margins of an OAS General Assembly meeting that he negotiated over seven million dollars for the St. Jude reconstruction project.

“It was on the margins of an OAS general assembly that I mobilised in excess of 13 million dollars for the Dennery water project,” Baptiste, also responsible for International Trade, Civil Aviation, and Diaspora Affairs, pointed out.

“I will stay in politics for the rest of my life, the government will not be able to spend that amount of money for me travelling to create an improved framework,” Baptiste told reporters.

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He noted that under the Prime Minister’s instructions, he was able to mobilise hundreds of millions of dollars to support the Youth Economy and infrastructural development.

“I don’t have to go on television and beat my chest about what I do,” Baptiste told reporters.

He recalled that the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) had levelled lavish spending accusations against him, posting a thirteen thousand dollar cheque on social media.

But Baptiste said public servants prepare travel for Ministers according to standard rates that apply not only to Ministers but also for public servants.

The Minister asserted that the $13,000 was blown out of proportion as if he dipped his hand into a bucket and took the cash.

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