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Questions over ‘secret’ Life Sport funding
Leader of the Opposition Dr Keith Rowley yesterday claimed the controversial Life Sport programme had been secretly funded since it was established in 2012. Rowley said Minister of Finance and the Economy Larry Howai could not remain silent on the matter any longer. He was speaking during a news conference at his office at Charles Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.
He insisted Howai “must tell us that now because this programme was being operated in secret, it was being funded in secret. ”The first time we saw it in the Parliament was last week Friday (two Fridays ago), when they came for $32 million, part of which was for the first payment to the programme,” he added. Life Sport is a training programme for less fortunate youths, via sports. It was transferred from the Ministry of Sport to National Security after claims were made in May it was funding criminals. An audit is also being done by the Finance Ministry.
An executive of the programme, Ruth Marchan, said she and others, including her so-called bodyguard, Curtis ”Tallman” Gibson, have received death threats. She went into a safe house provided by former national security minister Jack Warner this week after Gibson, who recruited trainees for the programme in Carapo, was killed at his home early Thursday morning.
Sport Minister Anil Roberts said the programme was necessary for the safety and security of citizens. But Rowley said Life Sport “is so shrouded in mystery that I know of no source at this time which can tell me how much money the Government had expended on that programme.” He insisted Howai must provide answers to the nation on the issue. Rowley said Howai made a request in Parliament recently, “asking for $3.5 billion and among that was (a request) for more money for the programme. Interestingly enough, he was asking for $8.8 million for the payment of the initiation of the programme.
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