Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley is calling on Finance Minister Larry Howai to do the right thing and tell the country how much money he has authorised between 2012 and now to be spent either by loan or direct transfer to the LifeSport programme.
Speaking yesterday at a news conference at his Charles Street, Port of Spain office, Rowley said the programme is so shrouded in mystery that he knew no source at this time which can tell him how much money the Government has expended on that programme.
“The person who can answer that is the Minister of Finance and he has been studiously silent,” the Opposition Leader stated. “This programme was being funded in secret,” he added.
Rowley noted that Howai came to the Parliament to ask for $3.8 billion more last week, which included an additional $34 million for the programme. “As of today the Government is not saying whether it is $113 million, $130 million, $200 million. What we do know is that large sums of money have been spent. And those monies should only have been spent with the knowledge and consent of the Minister of Finance. So unless the Minister of Finance is prepared to come out and tell us what he authorised outside of the parliamentary allocation, we still guessing,” Rowley said.
“Between the Minister of Finance, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Sport, something very, very wrong is going on here. And in the meantime death threats, people being killed, safe house, security guards, persons being killed in a programme that was going so wonderfully well, according to they who would have us believe it was so great,” he said,
On the involvement of Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner in the protection of Ruth Marchan, Deputy Director of Physical Education and Sport, Rowley said it was worrisome that a public officer who said there were threats, had gone for safekeeping to a Member of Parliament. He said his understanding is that when a person has a problem of that nature they look to the police. “And the police appear not to be interested. Is it a Government laptop that has been given to the member for Chaguanas West and if so, is that an appropriate place for a Government laptop to be?” Rowley asked.
In response to a question about the allegation made by Diego Martin North East MP Colm Imbert in the Parliament last Friday that the Carapo arm of the Muslimeen was cultivating an armed militia of 250 men, Rowley said the Opposition received the information from Government sources.
“If the Government sources are prepared to say now it is not true, then we can name them,” he said. “But when we read what is in the documents available to us and we see what is happening, we say we verily believe what we have been told,’ Rowley said.
On the invitation to visit the Carapo LifeSport project, Rowley said his oath of office required him to treat fairly with all manner of men, without malice or ill-well. He said if there was knowledge to be garnered by visiting a programme on which the taxpayers are spending hundreds of millions on, he saw no problem in going to find out what was going on there. He said however he was yet to be convinced that the programme as a solution was not creating new problems on its own.