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PM ACTED ON FACTS, NOT FORCE

By CAROL MATROO Saturday, August 2 2014

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MINISTER of Trade, Industry, Investment and Communication, Vasant Bharath, says Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s acceptance of former Sports Minister Anil Roberts resignation both as minister and Member of Parliament for D’abadie/O’Meara was not a “forced one”, but a demonstration of “careful consideration of all the facts, and responsible leadership”.

The PM announced during a post-Cabinet news conference on Thursday that she had accepted Roberts’ resignation. This was following a meeting between the former MP and the PM on Wednesday. Roberts had been under public scrutiny since a video purporting to show a person resembling him rolling a marijuana joint in a hotel room with some women.

He has since denied that he was the person in the video, and Persad-Bissessar had accepted his formal statement. Following this, Roberts found himself in the spotlight again when details of mismanagement of money in his Life Sport programme emerged.

An audit showed that the brainchild of Roberts came under question following queries and eventually the controversial programme, was terminated after the tabling of the “Report of the Central Audit Committee on the Comprehensive Audit of the Payment System”, during a sitting in the Lower House.

Bharath dismissed as “typical, baseless fabrication”, the claims by PNM Opposition Leader, Dr Keith Rowley, that the Prime Minister was forced to make her decision to accept Roberts’ decision. “In fact, the Prime Minister demonstrated that she would not bow to political pressure, and would instead choose to act responsibly by thoroughly considering the facts before her before making a decision,” he said.

In a release yesterday, Bharath said Rowley did not understand the principles of leadership and “decisive decision making.” He said Rowley “misrepresents the facts of issues and attempts to capitalise on concoctions because he sees no other way of getting the attention of the public.”

He said it was no surprise that the Opposition Leader was saying the PM was forced to make her decision. Bharath said Rowley was now claiming that Persad-Bissessar was trying to “misrepresent the fact that the Prime Minister continues to lead our country by new standards of openness, consultation and facts.” He said the PM has always acted with loyalty to the best interest of citizens of this country.

There were mixed results yesterday as residents of D’Abadie/O’Meara voiced their opinions over their former MP. Esla Williams, 80, believed he “did the right thing” in resigning.

“I applaud him for that. It took a little long, it should have been done before. If the investigation is finished and they have proven him to be not guilty, then maybe he can be reinstated, but for now his integrity is what stood out, you have to show that. Have integrity and do the right thing,” she said. If the People’s Partnership would retain the seat, Williams had her doubts.

“I do not know if the PP would get back this seat. There are lots of controversy and discrepancies, it’s in the balance, I am not sure. I am glad he came to his senses and did the right thing because after all integrity stands out at the end of the day. At the end of the day Williams was pleased by the representation she received from Roberts.

“His representation was good. They fixed the basketball court, the bridge coming into Mendez Road, but in light of what has been going on, I think the right thing he had to do, was compelled to do what he did,” she said. Another resident, who did not want to give her name, said Roberts, as the line minister had to take responsibility for what happened under his watch.

“You must know if you have people in charge of different things, everything has to come back to you, you are the line minister. When they bring that financial statement you are the one who has to go through it. When you see that statement that $3 million going for somebody for food, you must know something wrong with that. All of them getting a cut, all yuh give me a break please. You know what I like about him, he bold...he should get a Trinity Cross for being bold,” she told the Newsday. Another man, who said he worked for another ministry said Roberts should have resigned long before since he “had too much baggage.”

“He made the Prime Minister look real bad,” he said. But Marsha Straker-Park felt that Roberts showed a sign of character by resigning. Grace Malchan was more than happy that Roberts was no longer her MP.

“He has too much of out of timing ways seriously speaking.” She said she had worked on his campaign in 2010. “I heard the PM said he resigned, but I did not hear he said he resigned.

“I work for the Government and $400 million gone and you have no inkling what is going on? As a line minister there is no possible way that could have happened. I think the PM encouraged him to do the right thing, she had no choice,” she said. Ingrid Williams said ministers in public office should be held accountable.

“After election you really don’t see MPs to say whether they worked, you really don’t know...you don’t know what they did, but I am glad that he resigned. To me he was arrogant. If you want to say that we want to reach a status of a nation, people in office should look at the quality of life that they live.

“If you are a minister or somebody in government you normally resign, you don’t wait on the public to say “step down.” Several calls made to Roberts’ phone yesterday went straight to voice mail.

SEE PAGE 17

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