$34M FOR NO WORK
By NEWSDAY REPORTER Wednesday, June 11 2014
THE LIFE SPORT Programme continues to be embroiled in corruption allegations with further revelation yesterday that a whopping $34 million was paid to a contractor for the provision of educational training services in Math, English and Modern Technology with a focus on numeracy and literacy, but such training to persons in the programme was never done.
Ruth Marchan, the Deputy Director of Physical Education and Sport at the Ministry of Sport who on Monday exclusively disclosed to Newsday, a plot to kill her and her colleagues, yesterday said the $34 million was paid in two tranches. The first tranche, of $17 million was paid in September and the other, in the sum of $17 million was made in December 2013.
However, there is no work to account for the monies put out by Government with well over two years gone in the programme. According to Marchan, the contractor is a well-known figure of an educational institution in Port-of-Spain, who is now on the run. She admitted in a recent report that threats on her life stemmed from disagreements with certain top officials in the Ministry of Sport related to the her Life Sport Programme and because these officials had a political agenda.
“I was just there doing my best at the ministry and there were people who wanted me out because I did not concede to some of their requests. One of the things they wanted me to cover up was the $34 million to this contractor but, I said no because I felt it was way too much for such a contract” Marchan explained.
Meanwhile, information about the $34 million contract was corroborated by an ex-executive at the Life Sport who resigned recently. This executive who wished to remain anonymous, told Newsday yesterday he was asked to sign off on an agreement of $34 million to be paid to the contractor for services in Math, English and Modern Technology with a focus on numeracy and literacy, but he did not sign because he felt there was a need for more information on the project.
He noted the agreement had already been signed off on by the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago and he would have been an additional signatory.
The programme began with 33 centres throughout Trinidad and Tobago and was quickly expanded to 43 due to the demand in the different communities. However, when Newsday contacted the contractor in question yesterday, he refused to respond to questions about the $34 million contract. He did disclose however an involvement with the programme on two fronts: personal and via a company of which he was chairman.
He made it clear all work that he did in a personal capacity in the Life Sport programme was done free of charge. “I in fact volunteered to work on the Life Sport programme to help with the development of the youth and all my work was voluntary work” the contractor said.
However, when quizzed as to whether he had been given a contract by the life sport he said, “I was never given money physically, but I was the chairman of a company that had a contractual agreement with the Life Sport company. Whether that company was my company and if the company had a $34 million contract with the Life Sport, I cannot speak about that” the contractor said.
He added, “I left the Life Sport programme on August 15 last year. I think it will be highly unethical to talk about such a situation to someone on the phone.” He pointed out that although he had no reason to defend himself, concerns about him being on the run are far from the truth. “I answer my phone calls at all times but if I am unable to answer then everyone knows that they can get me on my email,” the contractor said. He admitted to being abroad at the moment, but when asked when he would be returning to Trinidad, he said that was personal and he did not wish to discuss that information.
The contractor who is a representative of Oxford and Cambridge told Newsday also that he left the Life Sport programme last September.