Hours after Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley criticised police for not investigating an $8.3 million bribery claim against Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar in connection with the Section 34 f
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Griffith: I won’t be held to ransom by Life Sport beneficiaries
National Security Minister Gary Griffith has sounded a warning that he will not be held to ransom by beneficiaries of the disbanded Life Sport programme who feel they have to be paid by the Government not to commit crime.
Griffith was commenting on the shutting down of the Life Sport programme by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on July 25.
Government is now restructuring the programme, which should be up and running soon.
He said if coordinators who had brushes with the law are excluded from the new programme, this should not fuel crime.
“It should never be one where you actually pay people not to commit crime, because that is what is being perceived...that if you don’t pay these people they would go ahead and commit crime.”
Griffith said if that was the case, “I have no intention to be held to ransom or for this country to be held to ransom, and that we must pay people not to commit crime. If you commit a crime you would be apprehended.”
It would be irresponsible, Griffith said, for any Government to pay people to desist from criminal activity.
“Individuals who no longer feel they have a cash cow and big contracts and think they can go ahead and commit any other type of white collar crime I will be monitoring them.”
In the report, which was laid in the House of Representatives, it alleged that a few coordinators in the programme, mainly along the East-West corridor, were under police surveillance for illegal activities in their relevant areas.
While there were some positive aspects to Life Sport, Griffith said individuals whose lives have been transformed should not get the “sticky end” because of the irresponsible behaviour and greed of a few.
Asked what criteria will be used to select new managers/coordinators of the restructured programme, Griffith said, “I don’t have a clue. That is not the minister’s call but strictly the decision of the Prime Minister.”
Will the Government investigate the background of the 43 coordinators before making a selection? Griffith could not say.
“What I can tell is that the programme when restructured would be transparent and all funds will be filtered down to where it matters most.”
Griffith is undertaking audits into all the social programmes under the Ministry of National Security—Citizen Security Programme, the National Mentorship Programme and the Hoop of Life.
He said it was to verify that funds are distributed in the right manner and reduce expenses, while maintaining the quality of deliverables to participants.
Griffith said his ministry has also been ensuring that the Civilian Conservation Corps, Military-Led Academic Training and the Military-led Youth Programme of the Apprenticeship and Re-Orientation Training are steered in the right direction.