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‘Dear Kamla, fire Anil’

By SEAN DOUGLAS Tuesday, July 29 2014

INDEPENDENT Liberal Party (ILP) chairman and Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner yesterday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar urging her to fire Sports Minister Anil Roberts from the Cabinet, over findings in the Finance Ministry’s Life Sport Programme audit.

But in an immediate reaction, Roberts suggested Warner was in no position to point fingers, due to what Roberts claimed were “certain dubious actions” by Warner when he was a government minister.

Warner in his letter to the PM, said the audit had found that “Life Sport” was plagued by procurement breaches, a deviation from Cabinet’s mandate, involvement of some persons in criminal activities, fraud by suppliers, theft of equipment, breaches of the Proceeds of Crime Act, and poor control and monitoring by the line Ministry.

Warner explained that good governance and the traditions of Westminster demand that where such mismanagement/corruption occurs, the relevant minister must resign or have his appointment revoked by the Prime Minister.

He cited sections of the 2010 People’s Partnership (PP) Manifesto as grounds in which Roberts should be sacked in keeping with Government’s promised, “greater transparency and accountability.”

Warner said it was the PM’s duty to maintain the image and reputation of the Government and country locally, regionally and internationally. But contacted for a response, Roberts asked who was Warner to make such demands.

“Tell Jack Warner to worry about a letter he wrote on a Ministry of Works and Infrastructure letterhead regarding money by contractors. Tell him to worry about that and read the Integrity in Public Life Act. Other than that, I have nothing to respond to Jack Warner,” Roberts said.

Meanwhile, the TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce yesterday said it supports Government’s action over the Life Sport Programme but urges more to be done by way of passing the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Bill.

In a statement yesterday the Chamber commended Persad-Bissessar for ending the programme and sending the Ministry of Finance’s audit of Life Sport to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and Commissioner of Police (CoP).

But the Chamber lamented the many discrepancies identified in the report, including poor control by the Ministry of Sports; cases of fraud by suppliers and possible breaches of the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The Chamber backed the Prime Minister’s view that this Report underscored the urgent need for procurement laws to become fully operationalised, and recalled that as part of the Private Sector Civil Society Group (PSCSG), they had made this same call to the Prime Minister in an advertisement published on July 25.

The Chamber vowed to continue to monitor this issue and, as with the wider national community, awaits the outcome of the investigations.

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