The Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) yesterday praised the power of the people following the resignation of Anil Roberts. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar made the announcement yesterday less than six hours after the MSJ protested outside the Ministry of Sport, Port-of-Spain. The resignation comes after completion of an audit which was read in Parliament six days ago, revealing financial discrepancies, corruption and theft in the Life Sport programme which was being run by the Sport Ministry.
The MSJ said it welcomed Roberts’s resignation and thanked members of the public, the labour movement and the Chamber of Commerce. It noted: “This is what people’s power can achieve, given the stand taken by the minister that he did no wrong, held no responsibility for the actions of his ministry and the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago and therefore was not resigning.” The MSJ said it was unfortunate Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar did not “do the right thing in the first instance” and relieve Roberts of his position in the Cabinet but had to wait on the people to say they were no longer prepared to tolerate this type of governance.
It added: “The Police Service needs to step up to the plate and play its role in a professional and speedy manner in investigating the issues raised in this matter and bringing to a close the numerous other matters that are in its hands. “It is not good enough to be having these matters drag on indefinitely.” CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Catherine Kumar, in a telephone interview yesterday, said Roberts’ resignation was the right course of action. “In light of the audit report and the many discrepancies and apparent fraudulent activity which took place in the Life Sport programme and given that the minister is ultimately responsible, the chamber believes it was the right thing for Roberts to resign,” she added. Kumar said, however, the resignation should have happened a lot sooner than yesterday.
Analyst: Long Overdue
Political analyst Dr Bishnu Ragoonath said the resignation of Anil Roberts was long overdue and expected. “The Prime Minister didn’t really have a choice. I think she waited for the opportune moment but everybody knew all along he would be leaving the Cabinet,” he added. Lecturer Winford James added: “How could he carry on, given the scandal the ministry has been involved in. He couldn’t have stayed on amidst this. “I think the whole government should resign and seek a fresh mandate... too many scandals created. The Prime Minister should call it quits now and call a snap election by year-end and be done with it.”