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Anil must resign

By SASHA HARRINANAN Wednesday, July 30 2014

click on pic to zoom in
Former head of the Public Service Reginald Dumas....
Former head of the Public Service Reginald Dumas....

WHILE declining to get into a “mud-slinging” match with Sport Minister Anil Roberts, former head of the public service Reginald Dumas, yesterday said he continues to hold the view that following the revelation of “grave” financial mismanagement and corruption in the Life Sport Programme, “according to the Westminster practice, the minister would take responsibility even if the minister is not personally involved and resign.”

Dumas was responding to comments made by Minister Roberts during an interview with Newsday on Sunday, which followed Dumas’ call for the minister to resign.

“What I was saying was that the minister has a responsibility...any minister, that if something so grave has happened, so grave that Government had to shut the programme down, then it is my view that according to the Westminster practice, that minister would take responsibility, even if he or she was not personally involved and resign.”

Regarding the minister’s statement that he (Roberts) was starting to get worried that, “even people who you have a lot of respect for seem to be biased by politics”, Dumas told Newsday his call for Roberts to resign has “absolutely nothing to do with political bias.”

“I don’t belong to the PNM (People’s National Move-

ment) or to any party and I’m not biased one way or the other. He’s clearly trying to suggest that I’m showing a PNM bias because Chief Secretary Orville London, is PNM. But I was talking about the Westminster system and the tradition of ministerial responsibility,” Dumas said.

Dumas noted that under the Westminster system, ministers tend to resign to take responsibility for things that have happened under their watch, “whether or not they knew about the things or were involved in the things. It’s a question of good governance, so I totally dismiss any suggestion of political bias.”

Newsday also spoke to Dumas about Roberts saying it was hypocritical of him (Dumas) to call for the minister’s resignation, but not that of senior officials in the PNM-controlled Tobago House of Assembly (THA) regarding the controversial $320 million deal between the THA and Milshirv Properties Limited, for construction of an administrative complex at Shirvan Road on the western end of Tobago.

Saying the Milshirv deal “was not above board”, Dumas noted that an audit never took place and as such, he only found out about questionable arrangements by looking at documents himself, “and putting things together.”

Dumas is now calling for a forensic audit of the Milshirv deal, saying that, “if such an audit were to show the kind of mismanagement and corruption that the Life Sport audit found, then as Mr Roberts asked, I would certainly call for the Chief Secretary’s (London) head.”

Another point raised by the Sport Minister on Sunday was that if one wants to hold ministers responsible, they must be given said responsibility.

Dumas described Roberts’ proposal as “unique” but added, “that’s not possible because ministers who are responsible for policy, do not have either the time, or the energy to get into the details of how those policies are implemented.”

He advised delegation of authority that goes hand-in-hand with holding persons to account, rather than simply leaving them to carry out policy unsupervised.

“A minister must call on these people to account, he must have regular meetings with them, ask searching questions about how the various programmes within that policy are being implemented, or not implemented, as the case may be, and give general guidance,” Dumas stated.

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