Friday, February 23, 2018

Learning from LifeSport

 The tale of LifeSport, know-nothing Sport Minister Anil Roberts, and newly minted multi-millionaire Adolphus Daniell is cautionary one. For it tells exactly how not to create programmes, not enter into contracts, and not act on principle.

The case of educator Daniell, recipient of $34 million from the LifeSport programme, is a textbook example of how base behaviour facilitates poor procurement practices. Mr Daniell was paid a whopping $34 million for a programme to provide mathematics, English and technology lessons to the participants of LifeSport. The programme was to commence on December 6, 2012 and be completed by September 30, 2014. That means that Mr Daniell would have been spending an average of $1.5 million every month to teach a few hundred “little black boys”, to use the description of disgraced Sport Minister Anil Roberts.

Mr Daniell’s education company was paid in two tranches of $17 million. The first tranche was paid in September 2013 and, despite no work having started, the second payment was made in February 2014.

Now it would seem obvious that Mr Daniell is obliged to return these monies. But, as far as he is concerned, he need not do so. “It is a non-issue because the only way under a contract anything is recoverable is if the other party is in default,” he told the Express. “There was never a single letter of complaint that I was in default of this contract. Not even a phone call.” He also argues that he was unable to do his part because the Government did not provide certain infrastructure as stipulated in the contract.

While Mr Daniel may or may not be on solid legal ground, his lack of any sense of ethical obligation speaks volumes. It is inarguable that retaining a fee for work not done is unprofessional and indefensible, and this basic principle is exacerbated by the massive sum involved. Moreover, while this would be a bad example from anyone, the fact that Mr Daniell is an educator who would have been supervising young males in need of role models makes this situation even more reprehensible.

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan intends to go to court to recover this sum, as well as monies paid to anyone else from LifeSport for work not done. This is definitely the right course of action, even though it raises the contradiction that the man who conceived the programme and had ultimate responsibility for it—the discredited Sports Minister Anil Roberts—remains in his plum post, unfired by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. 

This proves that legal options are necessary but insufficient, for it is ethical and moral principles or lack thereof—which is the real root of corruption.