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Imbert: Anil Roberts was fired

By Anna Ramdass anna.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

Fireworks erupted in the Parliament chamber at 3 a.m yesterday morning, as Opposition MP Colm Imbert produced documents showing that now Sport Minister Anil Roberts was dismissed from the Sport Ministry as a sports co-ordinator under the PNM's tenure because of his low performance and abuse of office.

Imbert waked every member of the House during the late session as he attacked Roberts, who on Wednesday during his budget contribution, said he did not renew his contract with the ministry under Roger Boynes because in 2003 he saw the plans for the Tarouba Sporting Complex and did not want to be associated with it. Roberts had also spoken about his close relationship with Boynes, whom he said he advised.

Yesterday morning, however, Imbert said all of this was a figment of Roberts' imagination and the facts were that he was not an adviser to Boynes, but a sports coordinator who was guilty of dereliction of duty.

"He was fired for absenteeism!" Imbert said as Roberts rose to his feet accusing Imbert of imputing improper motives against him.

"I was never fired. He's quoting from a document that has never been seen," shouted Roberts.

Imbert ignored Roberts' objections and proceeded to quote letters from the ministry's permanent secretary (PS) to Roberts.

In a letter dated January 8, 2003, PS Denise Jones wrote to Roberts stating, "I feel constrained to request that you advise me of your whereabouts on a daily basis and account for your long absence from duty without delay."

The letter also requested a meeting with Roberts for him to outline his achievements as sports co-ordinator.

Imbert also read the report from Roberts' meeting with the PS, where he (Roberts) said his absence was due to ill health and his father was supposed to deliver a medical certificate which, Imbert said, was never received by the PS.

The PS also stated that Roberts was reminded of his role as sports co-ordinator and also that although he did not have a degree, he was paid a high salary. He was also told that the ministry had a problem implementing his sports programme because he was not working with the designated team.

Another letter was sent to Roberts on February 3, 2003, where the PS wrote, "Your employment is with the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs and you do not form part of the minister's team, which is comprised of his personal adviser, his personal secretary, his personal assistant and his driver. Your work therefore should be submitted to the permanent secretary or to a member of staff so designated."

She also cautioned Roberts about giving statements to the media on behalf of the ministry which were "erroneous" and "embarrassing", saying he was not authorised to speak on the ministry's behalf.

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