In the midst of a raging controversy over the LifeSport programme, another Cabinet minister has been removed from the People’s Partnership Cabinet.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said yesterday she had accepted the resignation of Minister of Sport Anil Roberts. And she has advised acting President Timothy Hamel-Smith to revoke Roberts’ appointment with immediate effect.
Minister of Science and Technology Dr Rupert Griffith has been assigned the responsibility for the Sport Ministry in addition to his present duties, she said. Persad-Bissessar made the statement at the post-Cabinet media conference, held on the 18th floor of the San Fernando Teaching Hospital, Chancery Lane, San Fernando.
Persad-Bissessar said, “I continue to be disillusioned, disappointed and distressed by the level of deception and dishonesty associated with the well intentioned LifeSport programme. The background is well known. At the hint of corrupt practices I immediately ordered that the initiative be switched to the Ministry of National Security and instructed an independent audit be conducted.”
Persad-Bissessar said following the findings of the audit she instructed that the report be sent to the acting Commissioner of Police, the Integrity Commission, the Head of the Public of the Service and the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration.
“But even as we await the finding of these independent institutions on the matter, the usual duties of the Minister of Sport are being burdened with the mounting controversy and questions surrounding the LifeSport programme,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said she demonstrated patient allowance for all sides of the story to be heard through an independent audit.
“I have given careful consideration to the rapidly emerging issues and have resisted quick judgment and rash decision. The election of this government has changed the political landscape. The expectation of the public that something will be done when wrongs are committed in public office are now the hallmarks of good governance,” she said.
Two weeks ago, Roberts said he would resign from the People’s Partnership Government if an audit into the controversial Life Sport programme showed that his ministry was funding terrorists, criminal gangs, a militia and a sprawling palace.
The LifeSport programme, which was founded by Roberts to keep young men off the streets and away from crime, came under scrutiny following an exclusive Express report that the Carapo-based Jamaat-al-Muslimeen was controlling a large share of the Sport Ministry’s $113 million allocation for the programme.
Persad-Bissessar last week terminated the controversial programme after tabling the “Report of the Central Audit Committee on the Comprehensive Audit of the Payment System of the LifeSport Programme” in Parliament.