“Songshine was a kind of miracle. I was lucky enough to be part of making it happen.” — Gillian Moor
The current Finance Ministry probe of the Life Sport programme will confirm whether or not there is any criminal activity in the programme, says National Security Minister Gary Griffith. He took that position yesterday, saying he had no intentions of entering into any “catfight” with Life Sport personnel. He responded following yesterday’s press conference by Life Sport officials who, while welcoming the Prime Minister’s mandated audit of the programme, took issue with some of Griffith’s recent reported statements on the issue and defended the programme.
At last Saturday’s People’s Partnership (PP) rally, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, acknowledging concerns about the programme, said it was being transferred from the Sport Ministry to Griffith’s National Security Ministry and a Finance Ministry audit would be done. Yesterday, Life Sport programme director Cornelius Price referred to a report quoting Griffith as saying there were “ghost” participants in the programme. Responding last night, Griffith said: “I’m not getting into any catfight over this. I have much more important things to do. “But I wasn’t aware this same person (Price) is a police officer and is involved in any investigations that he can verify something before the investigation is completed. We have the Finance Ministry doing the necessary audit and investigations to take place.
“My job is to ensure the programme can work at optimum level and if there are any questionable activities or criminal elements involved, my job is to root it out. I cannot be involved in any petty squabbling with persons who might have their own agenda.” He reiterated he could in no way make any confirmation of criminal activity until the audit was completed. Griffith said he was now finalising details of how the Defence Force would take over the programme with the Chief of Defence Staff and ministry officials. He said he also intended to work closely with the Sport Ministry. “Even though this project is an initiative to reduce crime, it still involves a heavy concept of sport and we need to ensure all relevant stakeholders have an input to ensure not only crime reduction but also enhanced sport in T&T,” he added.
Asked if he would involve current Life Sport officials, he said: “We have no intention of removing everyone involved in Life Sport. Many can be of value and can continue (but) the whole concept is to ensure if there may be any criminal activity that is to be removed and that can only be confirmed when the audit is completed. “For somebody working there (Life Sport) to say it is not true is totally irrelevant to me. People will want to keep their jobs so I may need a little more reliable information than what is coming from someone who is working directly on the programme.
If criminal gang activity is confirmed in the probe? Griffith added: “...Then let the chips fall where they may.”