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Public Service head writes PS on Argentina trip
The head of the Public Service, Reynold Cooper, yesterday gave permanent secretary in the Tourism Ministry Juliana Johan-Boodram seven days to explain her absence from the country last week. Cooper was unaware of her absence from the country until it was reported in the Sunday Guardian. Johan-Boodram left on a chartered flight to Argentina to see a friendly football game between the host nation and T&T.
She said she forgot to inform Cooper of her absence for the four-day period. Former head of the public service Reginald Dumas on Sunday called for disciplinary action to be taken against Johan-Boodram if her explanation for being absent without the knowledge and approval of Cooper was not satisfactory.
Cooper told the T&T Guardian yesterday he wrote to her yesterday morning “requesting an explanation for the visit to Argentina and the arrangements that were in place for the performance of the duties of the PS and accounting officer during her absence.” When he gets the explanation, it will be sent to the Public Service Commission (PSC). Cooper said he had informed PSC chairman Dr Marjorie Thorpe of those developments.
Sport PS still away
Cooper also commented on the absence from the country of the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Sport Ashwin Creed. Cooper, who is also permanent secretary to the Prime Minister, said Creed told him he had applied for additional vacation leave. Creed was out of the country for almost a month and was expected to return to work on May 26 but reportedly sought an extension and Cooper said he had requested a copy of that application from the ministry.
Cooper said he received a letter from the Ministry of Sport, dated June 9, saying the minister (Anil Roberts) had agreed to Creed’s extending his absence from May 24 to June 30. Cooper said he also wrote to Finance and Economy Minister Larry Howai asking him to appoint the deputy permanent secretary as the accounting officer at the Sport Ministry until June 30. Creed’s absence comes while a probe is being done into one of his ministry’s major programmes, the Life Sport initiative.
There have been widespread allegations of corruption in the programme, including a claim by National Security Minister Gary Griffith that there was misappropriation of funds and that it was fraught with criminals. But the programme director at Life Sport, Cornelius Prince, told a news conference last month that Griffith’s claim was “a figment of his imagination” and insisted the initiative was transparent and above board.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar last month moved the programme from the Ministry of Sport to the National Security Ministry and Roberts said he was happy about that change.