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Life Sport ghost still haunting Sport Ministry

Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Acting Permanent Secretary Natasha Barrow, left, along with Deputy Permanent Secretary Denise Arneaud and Auditor III Jairaj Balliram listen to questions pose to them at yesterday’s Joint Select Committee meeting. PHOTO: NICOLE DRAYTON

Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs, Natasha Barrow, says the decision to construct a temporary roof at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Tobago, is one of the immediate benefits of the $92,000 weekend trip to the island by 12 officials from the ministry, including Minister Darryl Smith, last month.

Barrow, alongside officials of her ministry and Sportt officials, appeared yesterday before the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAC) chaired by House Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George to answer questions about the trip and other matters.

The officials went to Tobago for a site visit at the stadium, which is in need of major repairs and attend the Tobago House of Assembly Sports Awards ceremony.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley requested a report from Smith about the trip after its cost was reported, but retained Smith in his cabinet despite calls for him to be fired over what was seen as exorbitant spending on the trip.

Yesterday, while admitting it could have been done a little differently, Barrow insisted the trip was value for money, adding that the value could only be determined by the achievements of the exercise.

Annisette-George asked if the only benefits of the trip were for the delegation to see the dilapidated condition of the stadium and determine if there was a need to construct a temporary roof at the facility.

Barrow said other repairs were identified and they should be completed before the end of the fiscal year. She said the National Youth Policy, Caricom Youth Organisation registration, youth policies for Tobago and Trinidad were among the projects advanced by the visit.

Barrow said in the future, alternative transport and accommodation would be considered with a view to reducing the cost of such trips.

Barrow, who has been acting since January, said it had been a traumatic ordeal due to the fallout from the controversial shelved Life Sport programme. She insisted there is a need to seek external professional support to change certain behaviour patterns at the ministry.

She said there was need for healing at the ministry following the controversial Life Sport programme.


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