Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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Rowley: Ploy to protect Sport Minister
Leader of the Opposition Dr Keith Rowley says Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s decision to send the audit report into irregularities in the Life Sport programme to the police was intended to protect Sport Minister Anil Roberts. The probe was ordered by Persad-Bissessar after it was alleged that the programme was funding criminals.
Speaking in the Opposition conference room in the Parliament after Persad-Bissessar laid the report in Parliament, Rowley said the move was “one giant cover up” of the project. Persad-Bissessar said the project for at-risk youths in the country was to be terminated and she referred the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Commissioner of Police and the Integrity Commission for consideration and action.
But Rowley was not impressed, saying nothing short of a forensic investigation would do. He said the Government was seeking to cover up the matter “because this scandal became a landslide to bury the Prime Minister because she has provided the protection for the minister (of Sport). Rowley said the PM had failed to deal with Roberts because he was holding secrets on her.
“Today the minister responsible for this scandal is untouchable while the PM pretends to send this to areas for others to deal with,” Rowley told reporters. He noted that nothing came out of similar matters, including the e-mailgate probe, when sent to the DPP, Integrity Commission and CoP. Rowley said the allegations were in the public domain since October 2013 and the PM pretended she did not know about them. He added that a report from the Auditor General also raised concerns about the programme.
Rowley said it was after the May 4 assassination of Dana Seetahal SC that the security services focussed on the programme in a way they had not done before. He said it came under “full public spotlight, not so much in the context of the wastage and theft of public money but in the context of who killed Dana Seetahal and why.”