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An unsporting conversation with the Spalk Minister

It is Monday morning in the Office of The Minister of Sport.

The telephone rings.

Sport Minister: “Good morning. The Minister of Spalk speaking.”

Anthony Harford: “Ah, Minister, it’s Tony here.”

Photo: TTFF Marketing Manager and All Sport Promotions Director Anthony Harford

Minister: “Tony, Tony, I’m so glad you called. I wanted to speak to you about your football funding.”

Harford: “I’m very pleased to hear that, Minister. I was becoming concerned.”

Minister: “Yes, I heard you on that show on the weekend, The Brainless One. Tony, you have to understand that this government is determined to improve efficiency. We must streamline procedures. Gone are the days when you can walk into a minister’s office and collect a cheque. Since the new Minister of Finance took over from Winston on Friday night we have procedures, oversight, checks and balances and accountability.”

Harford: “Yes, Minister, I understand that. But I have provided full receipts for everything.”

Minister: “I know that, Tony, that’s how you have always done it. It’s the reason why I’m happy to approve everything, all $4.5 million.”

Harford: “That’s great news, Minister. When can I collect the cheque?”

Minister: “Just now, Tony, not so fast. I told you things have changed. You have to send in your claim to the correct department.”

Harford: “What do you mean, Minister? I’ve already sent it to you.”

Minister: “Tony, you’ve sent me a claim for transportation, yes?”

Harford: “Yes, Minister. We have to collect the players from across the country every day.”

Minister: “Right. Well, according to the new guidelines, that claim has to go to the Ministry of Transport.”

Harford: “Whaaaaaaat?!”

Minister: “Aye, that is my line. Anyway, there’s no mistake, Tony. I can only fund actual sport. Which is why I can approve your catering claim but I can’t actually pay you the money.”

Harford: “Well, who do I send the claim to?”

Minister: “That would be the Ministry of Food Production.”

Harford: “Are you sure, Minister? Food Production?”

Minister: “Yes, Tony. Payment for any food produced in Trinidad and Tobago falls under that portfolio. And this bill for hotel accommodation has to go to Cadiz at the Ministry of Tourism.”

Harford: “But we’re not tourists; the hotel is in Macoya.”

Minister: “Tony, Tony, is it a hotel?”

Harford: “Well, yes, but…”

Minister: “Where do tourists stay?”

Harford: “In hotels but…”

Minister: “Exactly. Now, this claim for water. It’s approved but I can’t actually pay that either.”

Photo: Water please.

Harford: “But the kids will be dehydrated if they don’t get regular liquids.”

Minister: “So it’s a health issue?”

Harford: “Well, yes.”

Minister: “Then send it to Khan in the Ministry of Health. Between you and me, Tony, I’d also send it to Ganga Singh in the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources. Give him something to do.”

Harford: “Minister, what about the training kits?”

Minister: “What did you purchase?”

Harford: “We bought 40 boys’ training uniforms and 30 girls”

Minister: “What? You mean this is for boys and girls?”

Harford: “Well, yes, Minister.”

Minister: “Fantastic. Send the bill to the Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development. Now, these coaches’ uniforms. Am I right in thinking that one of the coaches is Michael McComie?”

Harford: “Yes, Minister.”

Minister: “And another is Jamaal Shabazz?”

Harford: “Um, yes, Minister.”

Minister: “Great! So the young kids are being trained by coaches of different ethnicities?”

Harford: “Well, I suppose so.”

Minister: “Then send that bill to the Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration. Now, what’s this coaching equipment you’re billing me for?”

Harford: “Just the usual items, Minister. Cones…”

Minister: “Minister of Works or try Sharma in Transport.”

Harford: “….Goal nets?”

Minister: “Food Production.”

Harford: “For goal nets, Minister?”

Minister: “Yeah. If you just list it as ‘nets’ they’ll get the Fisheries Dept to pay for it.”

Harford: “Well, what about these office costs?”

Minister: “What are they?”

Harford: “Telephone and Internet.”

Minister: “Minister of Communications.”

Harford: “The light bill?”

Minister: “Minister of Public Utilities.”

Harford: “Bank charges?”

Minister: “Minister of Finance. Send him the bill for the football pumps too.”

Harford: “The football pumps? Why, Minister?”

Minister: “Don’t be foolish, Tony. Who do you expect to deal with inflation issues? Me? Ha Ha Ha. Now, Tony, is that everything?”

Harford: “Well, there’s the matter of the coaches’ salaries.”

Minister: “The Minister of Labour deals with all employment expenses.”

Harford: “So out of this entire request for $4.5 million, none of it will come from the Ministry of Sport?”

Minister: “Tony, I can only pay for sport-related items. I don’t make the rules, you know. It’s costing a fortune for my entire department to fly to London to cheer on our Olympians. Besides, I have to get creative because this 50th Anniversary of Independence Celebration of Sport concert is costing millions.”

Harford: “What’s that all about?”

Minister: “We’re celebrating all of the Nation’s sporting achievements over the last 50 years. Its gonna be massive. Fireworks, Machel and Nikki Minaj, not to mention a completely free bar.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago-born US rapper Nicki Minaj

Harford: “It’s a free concert for the people?”

Minister: “Don’t be stupid, Tony. This is for our sporting heroes. Of course, not all. We’ll have a selected guest list. Brian and Dwight will be there but the jury still out on Latas. He might not get permission from the new National Security Minister. Ministers, senators, friends of ministers, relatives of friends of ministers, prominent wealthy businessmen whose names are on the lists of, ah, donors. I may be able to sneak you on the list but it’s tight; Hasely Crawford can hold at most 30,000.”

Harford: “So, will Hasely be there?”

Minister: “Not likely. His allegiance is still not clear. And don’t even ask about those so called Soca Warriors. Remember we’re celebrating heroes. What did they achieve? Nothing. Not a goal, not a point.”

Harford: “So, Minister, you’re spending a substantial part of your entire budget on a party that will only have two sportsmen and mainly friends of the Government?”

Minister: “Tony, Tony, you of all people should know that sport is about inspiration. It encourages young people to steer away from crime. It provides something to look up to, something to aspire to. When those kids in the Beetham and Morvant see what they’re missing, they will work even harder on the training fields to excel in their chosen sport. In fact, we plan to hold this celebration of sport every year as an incentive. We’re already thinking of holding it in Miami next year.”

Harford: “I just can’t believe this, Minister.”

Minister: “Yeah, it’s fantastic, isn’t it, Tony? Now, I’ve saved the good news for last. I’ve prepared a cheque to the value of $650 to reimburse you for the purchase of ice. But I must warn you, I will not be paying for ice in the future. I took the liberty of paying the last Minister of Food Production $1 million to put together a crack team to research ice production. He said it was the coolest million he ever make, ha ha. I’m happy to tell you that they have located the perfect recipe for ice and I will provide this to you free of charge so you’ll never have to purchase ice again.”

Harford: “Well Minister, I really don’t know what to say?”

Minister: “Well, Tony, you don’t have to say anything. Just knowing I provide a valuable service is reward enough for me. And by the way, I know you are already working on costing your next undertaking. Don’t send me that budget, okay; send it to Bhoe in the Ministry of Planning… Thanks for calling.”

 

Editor’s Note: This column is pure satire and all conversations are faked; no offence is meant at parties named although they probably deserve it

About Filbert Street

Filbert Street
Filbert Street is a real columnist who works in a fantasy world that sometimes resembles our own.

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(Copyright AFP 2017/Prakash Singh)

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4 comments

  1. Ras Abdalla Tafari Wadada

    While it is Satirical, I hasten to say..’In every Satirical piece there is some TRUTH’…so this will surely serve a good purpose for exposing….Incompetence,Deficiencies, Nepotism……….and hopefully be a watchdog for all.

  2. Well, we won’t call it a policy change, Philip. Filbert is a new columnist and we are happy to give him a chance to fit into our delivery. Wired868 is sure he will get his line and length soon and he seems to have already won some attention for his movement. Regards

  3. That was hilarious. Love it!

  4. For a while I thought Filbert was filibustering. We have got accustomed to incisive 500-word, or so, trenchant comments and opinions on wired868. The policy change?