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Independent senator advises Anil: Don’t stick around
Independent senator Corinne Baptiste-McKnight on Friday told Sport Minister Anil Roberts his ministry had problems and advised him not to “stick around for later.” Her remarks, however, prompted a loud chorus of “No!” from the PP side, including Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, who remarked: “This is PNM plus one!”
Ramlogan complained that there “were no Independents here.” McKnight had queried a figure given by Roberts in reply to an Opposition question. He said the sum allocated to people and spent generally by the ministry for the London 2012 Olympic Games was $17.8 million.
Roberts detailed this in sums ranging from $1.5 million for sports psychologists’ services for elite athletes to $500,000 for athletes’ Wales training camp attendance. Roberts said those approved by Cabinet to attend the Games and sums allocated were himself ($182,275.30), Sport permanent secretary Ashwin Creed ($68,603) and physical education director Dave Bobb ($124,710.)
McKnight then queried the $17.8 million. She said information on the Finance Bill the Senate was to debate on Friday involved $20 million in transfers for sport and Roberts said $17 million was spent. Roberts said the $20 million wasn’t an additional figure. He received clarification from his office that said the $20 million was a budgeted figure and actually only $17 million was spent.
McKnight said, “If that was so, then the money was transferred from savings and overestimations in your original budget to meet payment that had to be made during 2012. “If what you’re now telling me is the facts, the Finance Minister is going to have a serious problem with this document he’s going to be presenting us later. I don’t know, your ministry have some problems. I might advise you not to stick around for later.”
Government members protested her statement. Finance Minister Larry Howai later said what Roberts said was correct and actual expenditure wasn’t being moved in the bill, but budgeted amounts were being transferred.
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