Permanent Secretary (PS)in the Ministry of Sport Ashwin Creed, who is out of the country on leave, yesterday broke his silence on LifeSport, defending his role in the controversial programme as well as that of his wife.
Creed, who has been absent from the ministry since May 13, issued the statement in an e-mail from his lawyer Peter Taylor.
He said he “will make himself available to assist with the audit as he did with the last three audits that were undertaken when he has completed his business abroad”.
Creed noted that as of May 13, he had 249 days unused leave to which he is entitled.
“There were three audits over which I presided and I am making myself available for the fourth one. Talk of me holding up the audit is absolute rubbish since the director of the LifeSport programme has not yet even been interviewed to date, neither has any official correspondence reached my desk as to when I am required to assist with the audit,” he said.
He expects that “due process and the basic principles of natural justice demand that the auditors submit its findings to the ministry giving it an opportunity to respond to its queries before making its conclusions public”.
He denied the allegation made in the Senate on Tuesday by People’s National Movement (PNM) senator Faris Al-Rawi that his wife received a $7-million contract for LifeSport catering, calling it “untrue, highly irresponsible, malicious and reckless”.
“The records are there for all to see as to who received catering contracts, my wife was certainly not one of them. Furthermore why are these reckless statements being made when an audit that would reveal all who received contracts is currently under way?” he asked.
“What principle of decency dictates it is fair to make damaging and untrue allegations about a private citizen under the protection of parliamentary privilege,” he said.
On Tuesday, Creed applied for an additional month’s leave from the ministry and it was approved by Sport Minister Anil Roberts.
Ian Ramdahin has been appointed the acting PS in the ministry.
The Express understands that Creed, the deputy director of Physical Education and Sport at the Ministry of Sport Ruth Marchan and Cornelius Price, the director of LifeSport, are supposed to be interviewed by the Central Audit Committee of the Ministry of Finance this week as the report is supposed to be completed by next week.
Creed also addressed allegations made by boxing promoter Buxo Potts that he misappropriated funds meant for the Boxing board.
“Cabinet approved some $4.4 million every year to the Trinidad and Tobago
Boxing Board. During the period January-June of the financial year
2012-2013 there was no Boxing Board.
“The board was only established in July 2013. The board having been established, it took time for it to be properly organised. New signatories had to be added to its account, it had to hire staff and other administrative requirements had to be put in place before it became fully operative and functional. The Ministry of Sport undertook these initial expenses for the board. There was therefore minimum expenditure by the board in July 2013. The two remaining months in fiscal 2012/13 were therefore August and September. The Boxing Board was allocated their spending requirements for the months of August and September,”explained Creed.
“To expect that the Boxing Board would have been given $3.5 million to spend in two months is madness. That is not how Government operates.
“Further and more importantly, the appropriation accounts for fiscal 2012/13 were audited by the Auditor General and every cent of the $4 million allocation was accounted for. Mr Potts made a request for disclosure of the said accounts relevant to $4 million under the Freedom of Information Act and he was furnished with the said information,” noted Creed.