PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said yesterday the fact that no third-party complainant came forward was one of the aspects she considered in deciding not to fire Sport Minister Anil Roberts.
Persad-Bissessar was speaking during yesterday’s Parliamentary debate on the Finance (Supplementation and Variation of Appropriation) (Financial Year 2014) Bill, 2014, at the International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain.
The Prime Minister spoke briefly on the wave of calls over the past month for Roberts to be terminated, which followed the airing of a video on TV6 News that showed a man, bearing a likeness to Roberts, rolling a marijuana cigarette in the presence of several people, in what appeared to be a hotel room.
Two weeks ago, Persad-Bissessar went public with a letter written to her by Roberts, in which he denied ever using marijuana. The letter was released following her decision to keep Roberts as a minister.
Roberts has been suspended from the coalition partner to which he belongs—the Congress of the People (COP)—with that party’s chairman, Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, publicly declaring her opinion that Roberts ought to step down.
Persad-Bissessar earlier this year fired Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh as minister of the People and Social Development following a sex scandal; and also this year, Fyzabad MP Chandresh Sharma resigned as tourism minister after allegations of abuse by an ex-girlfriend.
The Prime Minister said yesterday it was wrong to compare the Roberts situation to the others. “These are different scenarios,” Persad-Bissessar said.
She said no third parties were involved in the Roberts situation, nor were police reports made. This factored into her decision to retain Roberts, she said.
Speaking on another fiasco to emerge under Roberts’s tenure and within his portfolio, Persad-Bissessar said no more money will be allotted to the controversial LifeSport programme at this time.
This was indicated by Finance Minister Larry Howai, she said, and any money to be given to the programme will be forwarded after the current audit into LifeSport is completed and will be guided by the results of the audit.
Allegations of massive misappropriation of funds have emerged with regard to LifeSport, with claims that huge sums of money from the programme have been used to aid criminal activity.
Persad-Bissessar said the Government had nothing to hide, but it would be inappropriate to bring any part of the ongoing audit or any such sensitive information into the public domain at this time.