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Cops quiz Finance Ministry staff on Life Sport

By Andre Bagoo Friday, August 15 2014

MINISTER of Finance and the Economy Larry Howai yesterday stated officials of his ministry have been contacted by the police in relation to an ongoing probe of the Ministry of Sport’s Life Sport programme.

Speaking at a Cabinet briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair, Howai further stated notwithstanding claims by some that the audit conducted by his ministry into the programme was flawed, no concerns raised thus far have changed his view that the audit report is valid

“There is nothing that I have here that suggests the findings of the report could be thrust aside,” Howai stated. “The police have already been in contact with various members of the Ministry of Finance.”

Howai further stated the audit of Life Sport had started before it became a public issue, though he did not give a specific timeline.

“We had in fact started an audit which was in progress when the matter became an issue,” Howai disclosed.

The Minister said debate of financial sector reform legislation next Tuesday is “critical” because of the need to comply with international regulations and due to the impact the new Standing Orders of Parliament will have on the time-line for the Budget process. He said the new Standing Orders will result in the Budget being considered for a prolonged period. The Budget will be read on September 8.

“I would say it is critical,” Howai said. “It is on an accelerated path.” He said a third round evaluation is due and a fourth round in January. It is understood the measures relate to the Financial Action Task Force.

Howai also said he had been instructed by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to open communication channels with the Office of the Chief Personnel Officer in relation to opening salary negotiations with the Protective Services (fire, army, police).

In relation to the upcoming Budget, he said the focus will be on maintaining the growth momentum and on measures that will be sustainable. He further said any changes to the fuel subsidy, which remains a concern, will have to be done in such as way as to not adversely impact social and economic interests.

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