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Roberts on calls for his resignation: I will say no more
Sports Minister Anil Roberts says he will make no further comments on calls for his resignation over the LifeSport controversy but insists he will continue to work in the ministry until proven guilty.
“I will say no more on this issue but will allow the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Office of the Attorney General, the Integrity Commission and the head of the Public Service to do their own investigations and determine the next steps,” he wrote yesterday in response to a T&T Guardian editorial.
Roberts said he was being asked to resign because of the actions of others and threw blame for any anomalies or discrepancies in his ministry on officers with direct oversight and accounting responsibility. He added that he has full confidence in the majority of staff at his ministry and will not let the actions of a “selfish few” impair his judgment.
He said he is greatly disappointed that the LifeSport programme, which he conceptualised to help marginalised youth, has been so carelessly exploited and abused by a few for personal gain.
Roberts said he had already made it clear he did not have oversight of contract awards, tendering procurement or the payment processes, which were under the purview of various officers of the Ministry of Sports.
“As it stands, several officers are preparing responses to the issues unearthed in the Central Audit Report. In the meantime, the Prime Minister has sent the findings to various government agencies who will, in turn, do their own in-depth investigations.
“Therefore, at this time, I must continue to do the work of the people and focus on my mandate as Minister of Sport.”
He said calls for his resignation come without a clear understanding of the working and reporting relationships in state agencies.
“Ministers develop the policies, set up the framework, conceptualise the programmes, lobby for the funding.
“It is the ministries and various state agencies that actually implement and as ministers we have very little or no input into the actual day to day operations. As a minister I might be able to recommend or suggest but I cannot instruct,” he said.
Roberts said the LifeSport programme was audited three times in the last 22 months by the Auditor General and Ministry of Finance.
He said a careful review of all accounting and procurement procedures to tighten controls and allow for a more stringent monitoring needed to be urgently done.