The Dickon Mitchell-led Congress administration is once again coming under fire for allegedly showing preference when it comes to the purchase of airline tickets for overseas trips by government ministers and public officers.
A leading player in the industry told THE NEW TODAY that since coming to office almost 17 months ago, the regime has been giving the business exclusively to one travel agency.
He said that no business has been done by government with Astral Travel, Caribjet or Joy’s Travel Agency.
According to the official, government spends thousands of dollars each month on travel but only one travel agency is getting the business at the expense of all the others in the industry.
“We as Grenadian taxpayers are not getting a share of the pie – I think that’s absurd (because) whilst we are not advocating exclusivity, I think they should split it – give us if it’s at least one booking a month, give something. It’s a disgrace.
Under the former New National Party (NNP) of then Prime Minister Keith Mitchell, virtually all the government business on overseas travel was given to Astral Travel whose principal figures were associated with the regime.
Speculation is rife that the business is going to the Barbados-controlled travel agency known as Going Places.
Earlier in the year, an official of a travel agency told THE NEW TODAY that he called a government ministry to make an inquiry on the issue and was told by an employee that the instructions are “only to deal with Going Places.”
The airline industry official recalled that during the reign of former Prime Ministers Eric Gairy and Maurice Bishop, the government of the day had instituted a policy of “rotation every month” of travel agencies when it came to government officials going on trips abroad.
“If you have 12 ministries and 12 months, you rotate it every month so no one agency dealt with a particular ministry for that period,” she said.
“…You can just share it…say well look at these two ministries you use this company or use this one because whatever the fare is what you are going to get,” she added.
The industry official went on to say: “It is this cronyism that exists – they are going with one company, they are only going with Going Places. I didn’t know that there was a law saying that you must only go with a Bajan-owned company when in fact (there are) home-grown companies.”
“You don’t have to be partisan ….at the end of the day we just don’t get anything out of them on merit or otherwise. I just find it to be a slap in the face.”
“We are not advocating exclusivity – we are just saying occasionally offer us the thing because basically we want to serve our country, we want to serve our government.”