The acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Sport, Ian Ramdahin,
has approved payment of $14 million to the LifeSport programme.
The programme was transferred to the Ministry of National Security in May.
The Express obtained a document
titled “Payments/expenditure for the month of June, 2014 under the Lifesport Programme”, dated June 26, 2014, signed by Ramdahin, addressed to the acting chief executive officer of the Sports Company, Adrian Raymond, which states: “Please be informed that the Ministry of Sport has approved payments...in the amount of thirteen million, two hundred and fifty-nine thousand, six hundred and forty-three dollars and ninety-two cents. This is to be drawn from releases for the LifeSport programme for the month of June 2014 in the amount of $14 million.”
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had announced in May that the programme was transferred from Sport to the Minister of National Security.
According to the document, the expenditure is for participants’ stipends ($3 million), catering meals ($3.1 million), co-ordinators ($1.1 million), coaches ($853,200), life-skill facilitators ($500,000), maintenance upgrade of fields ($955,400), clean-up janitorial centres ($878,625), special refurbishment of upgrade of selected centres ($961,875).
“The quantum ($13,259,643.92) for which approval is granted is to effect payment for the items in the amounts approved as detailed hereunder in the expenditure drawdown schedule and as stated in the payment/expenditure authorisation certificates,” the document states.
Finance Minister Larry Howai has said no funds would be disbursed under the programme until the audit is completed.
National Security Minister Gary Griffith yesterday issued a detailed release on the future of the LifeSport programme, “assuring the nation several effective measures will be implemented to the Life Sport Programme to rid it of any affiliation with criminal activity and ensure it is run more efficiently and to the greater benefit of the nation”.
“While investigations continue on the previous incarnation of the programme, Griffith said at this juncture, he would be focusing on the future of the programme under his watch at the Ministry of National Security,” the release said.
It stated Griffith planned to put “the necessary safeguards within the programme to ensure greater accountability and transparency, in line with the stipulations of the Ministry of Finance. This will ensure the elimination of any illegal activities and irregularities that may currently exist within the programme”.
He further added, “There will be a full review of the current process
and procedures related to the disbursement of funds and the actual operations and management of the programme will be strengthened at all levels.”
Griffith said until a full audit was completed, all previous financial procedures that allowed payment to anyone involved in this programme had ceased with immediate effect. “Every cent to be approved for any form of payment—including payment to participants—must now come through the relevant department of the Ministry of National Security,” the release from Griffith stated.
Griffith also said the name of the programme would be changed “to signify a new start as an unfortunate stigma has already been affiliated with the existing name”.