Spanish version

POLITICS

Cost of official trips has exceeded $800,000

They have included trips to Asia and Europe.

At least 150 officials have gone on the trips.

Spanish version

Temas:

This Ministry of the Presidency has spent $800,000 on travel expenses so far, and has sent 150 officials to destinations around the world.

The trips have raised some questions about whether or not they are the best use of state resources.

For example, Michelle Gonzalez, an executive assistant, has been allocated $34,650 in travel expenses. Gonzalez has traveled to Turkey, Argentina, Guatemala and France, among others.

A trip to South Korea in June for a meeting of the Financial Action Task Force cost $5,400 in expenses for nine days. Gonzalez was accompanied by Security Minister Alexis Bethancourt, who then served as director of the Financial Analysis Unit. He received the same amount in expenses.

The law regulates how much a government official can spend in allowances while on a trip. That amount is determined by the level of the official and the location of the trip.

But a study of these expenses shows that there is the possibility of abuse. In some cases the amount spent is far greater than established levels, such as when Miguel Esbri, executive secretary of the Secretariat of Economy of the Presidency, traveled to Madrid, Spain.

For the 11-day trip, he spent an average of $900 a day, or almost $10,000.

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