$12M for anti-crime ‘Hoop of Life’
By ANDRE BAGOO Thursday, July 5 2012
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ON THE BALL: These four Government ministers, from left, Minister in the National Security Ministry Collin Partap, Sports Minister Anil Roberts, Natio...
THE $12 million “Hoop for Life” community basketball league programme will cover nine regions across Trinidad and Tobago over three years. In contrast, Minister of National Security Jack Warner said yesterday, the State spends $392 million per year to feed prisoners.
At a media briefing held at Temple Court, Port-of-Spain, Warner said the programme is not meant to be the solution or panacea to crime and criticised the Opposition for attacking the programme, given the PNM’s track record on crime.
In particular, Warner asked questions about a $13.8 million crime-fighting programme which was approved by the PNM Cabinet for one region alone — Laventille East/Morvant, the constituency of PNM MP Donna Cox.
“Where they spent this money?” Warner asked. “Where it went? I am still looking at the files to see if I can find it. I don’t know where the money gone. I will find it. Why aren’t people asking questions about that?”
Warner continued, “They believe anything this Government does must be attacked and criticised.” Warner said he has not heard “one young person” object to the programme, which will impose a condition on participants stating they have to avoid crime.
There will be an estimated 1,300 participants (including coaches and game officials) and 286 administrators. Warner said the State incurred no cost to bring retired American basketball star Shaquille O’Neal to the launch event of the programme last week Saturday.
“It did not cost the State a cent,” Warner said. He said private sponsorship covered expenses. Warner opted to keep the source of that private sponsorship under wraps saying private sponsorship is exactly that: ‘private’.
Warner explained the competition, which begins July 21, will see the $1 million first prize awarded to a team. Half of that sum ($500,000) will be paid to team members over six installments. The other half will be spent on a project of the winning team’s choice. The contest will last five to six months per year over three years. In down time, coaching activities and training will take place.
Warner warned that participants charged with crime during the contest they will be disqualified. While admitting this could be unfair given the presumption of innocence, this was necessary given that the programme is meant to fight crime. He also said if, after the contest, a member of the winning team is charged, that member would not share in the prize money.
The programme will be in the following zones: North; North West; East; Deep South; South; Central A; Central B; North East; Tobago East and Tobago West. Each zone will have between four to seven teams allowing 50 communities across Trinidad and Tobago to have franchises.
There will be a steering committee with oversight including: Ministry of National Security; Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs; Ministry of Housing; Ministry of Community Development; Ministry of the People and Social Development; the National Basketball Federation of Trinidad and Tobago; the Association of Basketball Officials of Trinidad and Tobago; and regional representatives of the eight regions.
A flyer given out yesterday said the programme is “in conjunction with the Ministry of Housing, Ministry of Food Production Land & Marine Affairs, Ministry of Community Development and the Ministry of the People and Social Development.” The brochure bears a logo for the “Office of Law Enforcement Policy (OLEP)” and “Making Life Important”.
Yesterday’s brifing was attended by Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal and Sport Minister Anil Roberts.