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Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The cost of engaging with the outside world

Nobody can govern in isolation. Ministers need to engage with the outside world to help attract trade, to build contacts and influence with other governments and bodies so as to secure benefits which we can all enjoy, and of course, to learn from the work of others to improve public services.

I have no problem therefore with this piece on Walesonline, which details the £150,000 spent by Welsh Ministers travelling around the World last year.

In my view, if the £30,936 spent by the First Minister, a private secretary, special advisor and press officer to go to Washington DC and New York in February this year can help to bring trade and jobs to Wales then it is money well-spent. Equally, the £15,671 spent by the Environment Minister seems perfectly in order.

She travelled to Brussels, Luxembourg, Paris, Marrakesh and Dubai. Two of those trips were to the Agri-Fish Council. One, in Luxembourg taken with a policy official cost £1,567. The other, to Brussels two months later, cost £1,696. She travelled to Dubai to promote Wales’ thriving food and drink industry, during which she joined 25 Welsh food and drink producers at Gulfood, the world’s largest food trade event.

The big question marks however, have to be the various Ministerial trips to back Wales in the Euro finals. Did Wales' performance in beating Slovakia really benefit from having a minister spend £1,775 to travel to Bordeaux to see the game? Did the governance of Wales benefit from that trip?
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