Embattled Sport Minister Anil Roberts received another blow yesterday as Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced that she was removing the controversial multimillion-dollar Life Sport programme from under his ministry. Persad-Bissessar, speaking at the People’s Partnership four-year anniversary rally at Mid Centre Mall, Chaguanas, first defended Roberts, then dealt the new blow. Life Sport will know be placed under the National Security Ministry.
Persad-Bissessar said she would only make a decision on Roberts’ political future with the party after carefully examining the existing evidence. “A decision must be made in the national interest, I will make it without fear and without favour,” she said. “But even as I am looking at this, I find it very, very strange, they say passing strange that this was a video over a year and a half ago. The PNM was saying that they had this video and they talking about it a year and a half ago.
“A year later, one day before a protest march that’s intended to shut down the country, one day before, the story comes up on your screens.” Roberts is currently facing public scrutiny after a video surfaced which showed a man, looking and sounding like the minister, in the company of two women making what appeared to be a marijuana cigarette. Even after coming out in defence of the video, however, Persad-Bissessar said she would remove the controversial multimillion-dollar Life Sport programme from under Roberts’ ministry.
Roberts is facing questions over misspending under the Life Sport programme and concerns that it is being used to fund the criminal element. Persad-Bissessar, speaking at the heavily-attended event, bashed Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley and showed video clips of interviews with former Port-of-Spain mayor Louis Lee Sing and PNM member Danny Montano who both spoke disparagingly of Rowley.
She said she had no plans of following in former prime minister Patrick Manning’s footsteps and would not be calling a snap election. “He expects an election sooner rather than later. Mr Rowley, I serve notice on you tonight, if you think I foolish like the PNM to call an election before time...I serve notice, I am not taking any basket, no election before they are due. No basket, none!”
She also played a clip of Rowley himself, where he described a group of fighting school girls as a “pack of hyenas,” saying that no one in her Government would ever speak of students in those terms.
Speaking under the banner Continuing the Road to National Recovery, Persad-Bissessar outlined several accomplishments and said she was committed to seeing the highway to Point Fortin constructed. She also highlighted increased vehicles for the police service, CCTV cameras, and improvements to the health sector, including longer opening hours at several clinics.