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Vasant backs Life Sport

By JULIEN NEAVES Friday, July 18 2014

MINISTER of Trade, Industry and Communication Vasant Bharath, says he does not believe the Life Sport programme, currently under audit by the Finance Ministry, will be shut down.

Asked about the fate of the programme, after he spoke yesterday at the opening ceremony of a two-day Crisis Communications Conference entitled, “Transforming PR Crises into opportunities” at the Hilton Trinidad, Bharath said he did not want to be premature in his statements as they would have to wait for the outcome of the audit.

“It is a valuable programme. We’ve seen many young people who have advanced their lives as a result of it. Who’ve benefitted as a result. So I don’t believe it is a programme that is going to be shut down. I believe that certainly some changes will need to be made,” he said.

He noted an audit had been launched into Life Sport and the results were “imminent” with Finance Minister Larry Howai saying it should be complete within about two weeks.

The programme was moved from the Sport Ministry to the National Security Ministry and the audit ordered following allegations of financial misappropriation and links to criminal elements.

In his feature address at the conference Bharath spoke about the importance of planning for a crisis, noting that “although one cannot predict when a crisis will arise, planning for crises provides a guide when all other levers are in disarray. The environment before the crises ought to be strong and credible and operating in a framework of accountability and responsibility. In a crisis when everyone appears to be in a state of panic it is the professional communicators who must be the epitome of calm”.

Bharath noted that crisis communications in the modern age must take account of the benefits and manage the challenges of cyberspace, adding that blogs have become a mainstay to promulgating messages in a crisis.

He also spoke of the importance of the media as an essential part of crisis communication.

“They can reach masses in a short period of time. And as communicators, it is important to understand what they want to know and share it with them – on their time; moreso it is even more important to ensure that your information is accurate and credible,” he said.

The conference was a collaboration with Government Information Services Ltd and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management. Bharath encouraged the more than 130 communications professionals present to use the conference to advance their state of readiness in the event that their organisation, or country should experience a crisis.

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