By Corey Connelly
July 27, 2014 – newsday.co.tt
Retired head of the public service Reginald Dumas says Sports Minister Anil Roberts should have resigned forthwith following the tabling of the controversial report on the Life Sport programme in the Parliament on Friday.
Referring to the Westminster system of government, under which Trinidad and Tobago adheres, Dumas said Roberts should have resigned on at least one of its principles – ministerial responsibility.
“The minister is ultimately responsible for his ministry. Even even if he does not know what is happening, he has to take some responsibility,” he said yesterday in a telephone interview.
“If this had happened to a minister in Britain, I am sure he would have tendered his resignation.”
Roberts, who conceptualised the Life Sport in 2012, has said he would not sever ties with the Government following the release of the report into the programme. He said his name was never mentioned in the report.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who terminated the Life Sport programme, has since forwarded the report to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams, the Integrity Commission and Head of the Public Service for possible criminal action.
The report, which followed an audit carried out by the Ministry of Finance, said the Life Sport was plagued by fraud, theft and ties to criminal activities. Dumas said yesterday that while a minister cannot know everything that is happening, he had overall responsibility for the management of the programme “even though someone else may have erred.”
“Although he said, they had not mentioned his name in the report, all that is fluff,” Dumas said.
“Anil Roberts should not wait to be fired. On the basis of the Westminster system we say we follow, he should submit his resignation. It is not a question of who stole money or who is corrupt. The minister is taking responsibility for what has happened in his ministry.” Meanwhile, the D’Abadie/O’Meara constituency of the People’s National Movement is calling on the Prime Minister to fire Roberts.
“We also call on Mr. Roberts to resign as the parliamentary representative of the D’Abadie/ O’Meara constituency, and save us from further ignominy and shame,” the constituency’s chairman Herman Noel said in a statement.
“We make these calls in light of the revelations made by the Honourable Prime Minister in Parliament on Friday 25th July 2014.”
Noel said although the group was not totally surprised by the report of the audit, “the findings revealed a most glaring display of graft, corruption, wrong doings and illegality that have become synonymous with the Life Sport programme.”
He added: “The breaches of proper procurement practices, the unearthing of fraud, the several instances of theft and the exorbitant and questionable payments made to benefactors, all point at best to dereliction of responsibility and lack of oversight by Mr. Anil Roberts.”
Noel said in any democratic society which adheres to the rule of law and ethical principles, Roberts would have been immediately fired once the audit report was presented to the Prime Minister.
“It baffles our reasoning that such action has not been taken,” he said.