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Rowley: Life Sport cancer no accident
Opposition leader Dr Keith Rowley has described the Ministry of Sport's Life Sport programme as a cancer, saying it was deliberately and rapidly expanded to fund criminal elements in preparation for next year’s general election. The plan fell apart with the May 4 murder of Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal, which, he said, alerted security agencies to corrupt practices.
Rowley made the claim at a PNM public meeting in Arima on Tuesday. He added: “That Life Sport cancer that grew like a mushroom overnight was not accidental. It was a deliberate plan by the UNC to fund criminal conduct in the East-West Corridor with the general election in mind.
“The plan fell apart with the killing of Dana Seetahal because with the killing of Dana Seetahal, the shock to the country and the shock to the agencies of security have put the spotlight on a programme which the Prime Minister was turning her face away from... they were funding it. “Today they are silent on the Government’s deliberate funding of criminal conduct, hoping that it would have been their political base in the East-West Corridor.
“They never anticipated the spotlight to shine so brightly on Life Sport because it was their vehicle for funding criminal conduct and now they are all playing they don’t know what is going on,” Rowley said. Saying the programme soon moved from $6 million to $130 million, he asked if left undetected what would have been the figure for next year. He said it was now understood why there were so many reports of officials within the programme being targeted.
He added: “It was an avenue they created and it was so loose... the arrangements in spending that money was so loose that even some of the public officials started to feed in the trough. “So today you are hearing public officials saying they are in difficultly with criminals because they all did not measure up to what you expected. “That is why you are being told today by one of the public officials that the real issue with the money is that $34 million was paid to an individual and no work or no service was provided.”
He said he wrote to Sport Minister Anil Roberts for $40,000 to fund a community football competition in Diego Martin but to date got no reply. “The scandals at Life Sport cannot be put at the doorstep of anybody else but the Minister of Sport and the Prime Minister,” Rowley added.
He also lashed out at Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s inability to deal with a matter involving a video showing a man closely resembling a government minister smoking what appeared to be marijuana in the company of two women, noting Robert’s own party’s decision to suspend him. Rowley added: “Don’t come and tell me about coalition here to stay and one of your members is in the Cabinet... you see, you hear and you suspend him because he is not co-operating with you.
“So COP ‘fraid him. They suspend him with no provisions for suspension in the party, and you, as the Prime Minster... the only person in this country who has the authority to determine who sits in the Cabinet... you are guilty of dereliction of duty because you have allowed to remain in the Cabinet a member whose own party wants no part of him for his own conduct,” Rowley said. He claimed that was deliberately done so that certain individuals could protect each other.
On the latest attack from his detractors Rowley said he was being portrayed as a gorilla on Facebook and invited the audience to look at it.