Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 12th 2014 Contents A5
Thursday, June 12, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Decisions will be made on the basis of
the Finance Ministry s audit of the Life Sport
programme, expected to be completed in
another three weeks or so, Finance Minister
Larry Howai confirmed yesterday.
Howai said the ministry was interviewing
both sides, the National Security Ministry as
well as Life Sport officials, on the issue.
He added that the Finance Ministry had
to do so "because (National Security) Minister
Gary Griffith has said, this is the situation
and we said okay, if that is so, obviously you
made a statement on the basis of information,
so let us know what information you have. So
we re also interviewing the National Security
Howai spoke about the issue during the
Senate s lunch break yesterday. He said he
had seen a headline on the issue but had not
received any report and the audit officers had
not given him any interim or final report yet.
Howai added: "They indicated they needed
some additional time as it is 41 centres they
have to visit to confirm things and they have
to confirm with everyone, also the nature of
the confirmation tends to be a little difficult.
"For example, someone may have signed
a receipt but whether the money went to all
the parties it s supposed to, that is the piece
that is requiring a little more work than they
had originally expected to do. As of now, I
don t have any further update other than the
fact the work continues."
Howai said when the audit started, he had
thought it would be done within three to four
weeks and they should have finished.
But based on what he was seeing now,
Howai said they would probably need another
three weeks before they get everything com-
Howai said he only had about four officers
working on the audit and they had to interview
everyone, visit all centres and get corroboration
from those 41 centres.
"So it s taking a bit longer... they have to
be accurate, as decisions will be made on the
basis of whatever they put together and they
don t want to make a decision and say, we
made a mistake. They have to be sure they
get the information," he said.
He added that the audit team was dealing
first with some of the people who were more
difficult to locate.
"So while we could get hold of them, we
will," he said. See Page A6
SEAN NERO AND
Embattled permanent secretary in the
Ministry of Tourism, Juliana Johan-
Boodram, is defending a recent four-day
trip to Argentina, saying she was not absent
Johan-Boodram was in Argentina as part
of a local contingent in support of the national
football team for an international friendly
against the host country.
However, the issue of whether she had fol-
lowed protocol in notifying the Public Service
Commission of her absence from duty was
raised in a Sunday Guardian exclusive.
But speaking to the media at yesterday s
launch of the Tourism Development Company
Limited s (TDC) meeting planners guide at
MovieTowne, Mucurapo, she said: "I was on
"There were approvals in place. The normal
way we would normally do it is to write to
the DPA to get an acting PS and write to the
comptroller of accounts to get an accounting
Reynold Cooper, head of the Public Service
and permanent secretary in the Office of the
Prime Minister, had expressed surprise he
had to learn of Johan-Boodram s absence in
the media. He has since given Johan-Boodram
seven days to explain her absence from the
In initially commenting on her absence,
Johan-Boodram said she "forgot" to inform
Cooper about her departure and that the trip
was "not a big deal" as it had not been paid
for with state funds.
She added that she left this country under
the delegated authority of her line minister
Gerald Hadeed and therefore did not need
Asked yesterday if she had met with Cooper
since her return to the T&T on Monday, she
replied: Yes, we met."
Of her being required to submit a report
to Cooper, Boodram said: "A report has gone
to Mr Cooper and head of the public service
yesterday. I have submitted my report.
"I was there on official leave. I was there
to promote T&T. Ninety-two countries saw
the match. Besides the countries that saw
the match there were 322 million people view-
ing the match.
"We were there to promote T&T and I
think we did a good job of it. All proper pro-
tocols that were supposed to be followed for
my absence from this country were followed."
Finance Minister Larry Howai has given all
ministerial permanent secretaries until July 31
to explain and resolve issues of malpractice and
lack of accountability raised by Auditor General
This was decided after Howai held a meeting
with the permanent secretaries, including Head
of the Public Service Reynold Cooper.
The meeting was held to discuss a damning
report from Ottley which showed that Government
ministries had paid millions of dollars in over-
payments to contract employees without proper
documentation or accountability.
Among the ministries highlighted was the Min-
istry of Sport, under which the controversial Life
Sport programme falls. This programme is currently
being audited by the Ministry of Finance.
Ottley said an examination of records and doc-
uments showed non-compliance with financial
instructions, financial regulations and other finan-
cial directives by permanent secretaries. He also
said reports on appropriation accounts were not
received from 13 accounting officers by the Audi-
tor s General Office up to January 31, 2013.
At the meeting, Howai said all permanent sec-
retaries would have more than six weeks to resolve
queries of accountability raised by Ottley, who
submitted a copy of his report to House Speaker
Wade Mark on April 29, 2013.
Expressing concerns about the report, Howai
called on all permanent secretaries and their
accounting officers to enquire into discrepancies.
While acknowledging that human resource con-
straints affected all ministries, Howai drew atten-
tion to several key areas identified in Ottley s
report, including late and/or incomplete replies
to the queries of the Auditor General, inventory
control, overpayments, inadequate payment vouch-
er records and payments to contract employees
and suppliers made without the necessary paper-
Several initiatives were identified for improving
compliance in these areas, while the permanent
secretaries raised concerns of their own.
The meeting ended with the minister instructing
all permanent secretaries to furnish him with
reports detailing how the breaches highlighted by
Ottley are being resolved. Efforts to contact Howai
and Cooper for further comment were unsuccessful
yesterday, as calls to their phones went unan-
PSs get six weeks
to deal with issues
In his report the auditor general outlined exorbitant
increases by the various ministries. Among these are;
1. In the Ministry of Sport, expenditure moved from
$28.786 million in 2011 to $395.884 million in 2012, a
variance of $367.098 million or a 1,275 per cent
2. In the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure,
expenditure moved from $514,999 million in 2011 to
$2.4 billion, a variance of $1.9 billion or 378 per cent.
3. In the Ministry of Transport, expenditure moved
from $218.585 million in 2011 to $1.1 billion in 2012, a
variance of $843 million or 386 per cent.
4. In the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable
Development, expenditure moved from $62.8 million to
$208.6 million, a variance of $145.7 million or 232 per
5. In the Ministry of Justice, expenditure moved from
$126.5 million in 2011 to $408 million in 2012, a
variance of $281 million or 222 per cent.
6. In the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child
Development, expenditure moved from $46 million in
2011 to $137.5 million in 2012, a variance of $90.9
million or 194 per cent.
7. In the Ministry of Housing, Land and Marine
Affairs, expenditure moved from $1 billion to $1.9 billion,
a variance of $924 million or 90 per cent.
WHAT THE REPORT CONTAINED
Howai on Life Sport audit:
Probers need more time
Howai also said the Finance Ministry had to
use some National Security Ministry staff to
assist with visits, since some finance officers
expressed concern about their physical safety in
Arrangements were made for them to have
security that might be required in visiting some
Deputy director of physical education and
sports in the Sport Ministry, Ruth Marchan, Life
Sport programme director Cornelius Price and
another official have claimed to have received
death threats in connection with the programme.
Marchan and Price are now said to be under
police guard for their safety.
On whether Life Sport was functional, Howai
said it wasn't really, due to the interviews being
On if it was suspended as a recent report
claimed, Howai said the programme had been
transferred to Griffith's ministry. He said the
transfer was approved and confirmed by Cabinet
note, adding Griffith was "on top of it fully now."
Howai said he had also asked Griffith to
consider what areas should be cut out or
significantly reduced in some way.
He said there were obviously some areas
where things were working well and also others
where perhaps it may not be.
"I asked if he could pay particular attention to
those and see if we could cut those down
because I don't want the ministry to be in a
position to continue to make payments for
something that shouldn't really be paid for.
"I did ask that he deal with those specific
areas as soon as it came over to him," Howai
On Creed's absences from the Sport Ministry,
Howai said the minister would have made a
request to the head of the public service for a
replacement to handle revenue issues at the
SAFETY CONCERNS RAISED
CREED'S NOTIFICATION LATE
Juliana on Argentina friendly:
I was promoting T&T
Another PS attached to the Ministry of Sport,
Ashwin Creed, also was reported to be absent from
the country without official leave.
But Creed's attorney, former People's National
Movement minister Peter Taylor, defended his
client's absence on Tuesday, saying Creed had
applied for the extended time away from the job.
Cooper, however, only received notification of
Creed's action on Monday, one day after the issue
was highlighted in the Sunday Guardian.
He had been absent from his job since last month
and his official leave ended on May 23. He has not
returned to the Ministry of Sport but extended his
time off until June 30.
Creed is central to an audit being conducted by
the Ministry of Finance's Central Audit Unit into the
Life Sport programme. The investigation was
announced on May 24 by Prime Minister Kamla
Persad-Bissessar and began soon after.
Creed had already been out of the country before
the audit began but is a key figure to unravelling the
multi-million dollar disbursements through the now
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Tourism,
Julianna Johan-Boodram, speaks to members of
the media following the Tourism Development
Company's official unveiling of the meeting
planners' guide at MovieTowne, Mucurapo,
yesterday. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
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