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Rowley asks Smith to account for Tobago trip; new info refutes Sport Minister’s claims

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has called on Sport Minister Darryl Smith to account for his $91,910.43 weekend trip to Tobago with 11 officials from his Ministry.

The following is the statement from the Office of the Prime Minister:

Photo: Prime Minister Keith Rowley (centre) greets SPORTT CEO Dinanath Ramnarine (left) while Sport Minister Darryl Smith (right) looks on during the opening of the Brian Lara Cricket Stadium in Tarouba on 12 May 2017. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Prime Minister Keith Rowley (centre) greets SPORTT CEO Dinanath Ramnarine (left) while Sport Minister Darryl Smith (right) looks on during the opening of the Brian Lara Cricket Stadium in Tarouba on 12 May 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“The Prime Minister Dr the Honourable Keith Rowley has requested a full report from the Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs, the Honourable Darryl Smith, on the recently concluded trip to Tobago by the Minister and officials from the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs and the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago.

“The Minister and Ministry officials travelled to Tobago to attend the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Sports Awards, which was held on Saturday 20 May 2017 at the Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort.”

Rowley’s media release comes on the heels of a second exclusive investigate report by veteran journalist and blogger Sharmain Baboolal, which contradicts statements by Smith on his Ministry’s Tobago excursion.

Smith, who described the affair as “a storm in a teacup,” claimed yesterday—to several media stations—that he was only responsible for taking his personal assistant, Cindy Cupid.

However, documents unearthed by Baboolal suggest that the request to take three additional staff members to Tobago, including communications officer Kate Balthazar, came directly from Smith’s personal secretary, Maria-Elena Phillips, and was copied to Permanent Secretary Natasha Barrow.

Photo: The hand of god? Sport Minister Darryl Smith (right) takes a hands-on approach to communication at the ministry with employee Kate Balthazar.
Photo: Sport Minister Darryl Smith (right) poses with Sport Ministry’s communications officer Kate Balthazar.

Further, a printout of flight bookings for Balthazar and Melissa Assam, the executive assistant to the PS, showed that their plane tickets were secured before Barrow was asked to include them in the travelling party.

The Sport Ministry took 12 officials, headed by Smith, to Tobago for three days to attend the THA Sports Awards, which lasted for just one hour and 15 minutes on Saturday night. Ministry personnel presented only one trophy at the ceremony.

Contrary to claims by Smith and Barrow that they held several meetings in Tobago, informed sources revealed that the only other business on the itinerary that weekend was a site visit at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet and the key people for that stop—including CEO Adam Montserin and facility manager Anthony Blake—flew in from Trinidad and left on the same day.

More than half of the Sport Ministry’s touring party, including Smith himself, did not attend the site visit.

Smith told CNC3, on Tuesday 23 May, that his usage of taxpayers’ money at the Magdalena was no big deal since the hotel was owned by the government and “the money stays in the system.”

Photo: Cindy Cupid, the personal assistant to Sport Minister Darryl Smith, enjoys herself at the Magdalena golf course over the weekend.
Photo: Cindy Cupid, the personal assistant to Sport Minister Darryl Smith, enjoys herself at the Magdalena golf course over the weekend.

Editor’s Note: Click HERE to read the Sharmain Baboolal report into the Sport Ministry’s Tobago excursion.

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137 comments

  1. Take a look at our public servants, examine their attitude and the way they treat with citizens. I recentiy heard MP in opposition decry public servants behaviour when he was in government.

  2. Lasana, I’m still waiting for someone to ask Darryl why he felt not one member of his staff should have attended the CFU club championship on that same weekend? Rowley saying how we all love football so much, yet his Minister of Sport misses the biggest Caribbean club football event of the year! So much for promoting sport tourism. Did you know that customs confiscated the referee and ball boy uniforms when concacaf arrived and demanded they pay duty? They also tried to hold on to the trophy. No help from govt at all. Was embarrassing. Ask the minister about that!

  3. I’m not anti-PNM. I’m against bad, uncaring governance. And we seem to get that all the time.

  4. You keep thinking that people can get excited about something being not quite as bad as something else, Clyde. And I’m afraid you might believe that too.

  5. Moreover, to ditch your argument about “real people dont care for pnm”..who sre those”real people?”. Are they ones who have been forming myriad political parties since 1956 to uproot and destriy the pnm? Have they survived?.PNM is a NATIONAL MOVEMENT..an IDEA OF PURPOSE FOR MEANINGFUL EXISTENCE AS A PEOPLE.
    You cant destroy an Idea Liburd.

  6. UNC Liburd is not good for Trinidad and Tobago. They have proven that. On the other hand it is the PNM which nurtured this country and brought to the standard that some people are saying we have lost. PNM is a proven product. UNC a failed aggregation.Raheem of course should be in his glee to wear a pnm tie and proudly too.

  7. Bet Akeem can’t wait to get a PNM tie. Real people don’t care for UNC or PNM. That’s just a fight for the trough.
    Neither are doing athletes any good. But you keep on babbling about who is worse than who Clyde.

  8. No we shall not remain the way the unc operated.

  9. the more things change, the more things remain the same

  10. More of the great work that Smith is doing. ☝️

  11. “As the document shows to date, almost all of the half million dollars that was released for traveling and subsistence TT$542, 000 has been used up by the MYSA.” If Smith felt this comfortable, looking at their travel and subsistence budget (which was supposed to last til October?) to spend that much money so frivolously, what other Ministers are currently doing the same? Who has done so in the past and why is it that any person elected to lead us can look at a budget that is grossly over spent for the time left, and simply ignore the facts for a few days of pleasure – where is the money supposed to come from – how do they balance that budget now? Did he pass Primary school math?

  12. All these ministers. Unc, pnm, they telling p to band their belly. But they spreeing, enjoying the nice life with side chicks. And ppl are die hard followers of them. And those same die hards wonder how a man like Trump gets into power. Its we ppl who put dem up there.

  13. Kudos to the investigating media….bring it on!

  14. Those who say the UNC did worse, you are missing the point – even the HPM Dr. Rowley saw fit to issue a request for an explanation of the Smith expenditure, and it is right that it should be explained, and if not explained, properly investigated, audited and whoever took/assigned money they were not supposed to take/assign for spending without proper procedures being followed, should be made to pay it back and also relieved of their position. I hope the HPM follows through and makes good on this inquiry for the sake of taxpayers. He should also investigate wherever evidence can be had, any allegations from the previous administration and make them pay as well.
    Shamfa’s error should also be treated in the same manner, but go a step further and audit all roaming charges of all ministers who have travelled in the last five years and make them all pay as much as possible any over-expenditure – the treasury might be replenished a bit at the end of that. And if there is not standard set for what can be spent on roaming charges, then perhaps the Ministers should stay home and send someone who is not so inexpendable.

  15. Not one thing gonna happen

  16. By reading some comments on this issue & with the response i’m seeing here you need to ask one self with the mentality of people thinking T&T is head on to destruction i can’t see how people could be wrong & others say they do that we could do it also come people let good sense prevail

  17. ‘Cockblocker in chief’

  18. This is why we need to pay more taxes.

  19. and ppl making dotish excuses for irresponsible behavior!!!!

  20. So Daryl screwed everyone that weekend…some volunteered and the tax payers got it involuntarily…

  21. Let not forget the trip to South Africa with rowley

  22. The only thing to investigate here is the size of the entourage. Corruption? Of course not. Wastage possibly…because 12 ppl for the main reason they went there seems excessive.

  23. While we cussing one another because of party affiliation we lose the bigger picture–All these politicians are stealing the patrimony of future generations–When our gran children will be paupers while their grans will be living it up in foreign lands

  24. He should be made to resign. This is scandalous and disgusting to say the least.

  25. Sad thing people trying to justify this by comparing what the last administration did.wasnt that one reason they were voted out,some people need to wake up and realize politicians see about themselves .

  26. Thief doh like to see thief with longer bags. Is it that our backward, third world mentality, encourages us to justify corruption, because its our party. Wrong is wrong, right is right. We are fast becoming like Venezuela. when we ccannot afford food, I wonder if we’ll be talking PNM or UNC

  27. Just how irresponsible and stuuuupid are these ministers??? AND, what about Shamfra??? She gets off the hook! SHouldn’t the PS’s be responsible for informing these ministers of what they are/are not allowed to do??? Is it that they are used to just spend taxpayers money???

  28. Kamla spend 3 hundred and fifty thousand dollars (350.000 )in roti alone . for 1 day

  29. So this is what is meant by “Tightening yuh belt?”

  30. I want to see the evidence….. my trip cannot be compared and that cost over fifty thousand for 18persons for five days.

  31. Kamla spent 10million on a 12day trip, so…

  32. It was probably wrong……but was it corruption or wastage……..i await d report…….u shud to

  33. All ministers was supposed to tighten their belt but looking at that Minister size I doubt you could tighten that belt.

  34. PNM you looking so bad,well we don’t know who TO trust

  35. I fine all yuh not seeing tje big picture …. if he didn’t kerry she he’da incur roaming fees!

  36. I want to ask Denish Ramnarine, new C.E.O of the sports company with his stellar record of service to sport, why did he decide to do a free style TOWARDS a sinking ship..Most ‘swimmers’ from Phelps to Bovell head the other way..Is there any record of travel agents making bookings on the TITANIC after it had hit the iceberg? P.S..I hope that you do not have Shamfa on speed dial..

    • Someone commented about Ato Boldon. I can only guess he had good intentions, but when he saw the light, he shipped out.
      It seems when people go in with good intentions, the thought seems to be, if you can’t beat them, join them. If there are long standing members involved in politics who seem to hold on to some integrity, good for them.

    • I always say politics is where “good reputations go to die”. People may start out with good intentions but eventually leave or succumb to pressure.

  37. The Minister has to answer, but let me throw in the mix. Where is the Permanent Secretary in all this.(Time they start accounting to us the people. regarding the public purse) Who approved and signed off on this. Not the Minister as Moonila told us they don’t sign off money. This begs the question, do Ministers and PS know their role and function with finances which they oversee ?Clearly not. Cudjoe and Smith the two PNM neophytes need to repay these monies.

  38. Run this clown out of the cabinet. He had absolutely no regard for taxpayers’ money.

  39. Earl Best

    If the PM is going to start that whole accountability business, he may well not have time for anything but reading reports, some of them perhaps bearing the signature KCR.

  40. So why is no one behind bars as yet for misappropriation of funds?
    Maybe an investigation can be done on the CoP to find out why no one has been arrested for all the corruption done in high offices during his watch as commish.

    • You don’t get it do you? If the PNM starts going after the last government what do you think is going to happen to them when the UNC eventually gets back into power? They have an understanding. Also don’t quote the Panday situation because if they really went after him he would still be in jail.

    • In this day and age that just cant be tolerated. All over the world people who held high office are being hauled to jail.
      If we cant depend on the politicians to make anything happen then the masses ought to take to the streets and in front of the homes and offices in their thousands in a show of people force. But our people are too happy with bs and will find the sun too hot. I feel though, action by the masses is the only way to get collective despondant voices heard.

    • Joan the day you taking to the streets I will come out with you!

  41. He needs to go..or pay it back…na man

  42. Lasana, do you remember Dr Rowley’s first address to the Permanent Secretaries a couple days after he was appointed Prime Minister? I think we were so happy to get rid of Mrs Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves that we overlooked what he was saying. In retrospect, I think he was subtly warning his Permanent Secretaries about the young and the restless within his Cabinet and that they needed to be managed properly.

    • Marcia, the clip I saw on television was of the PM telling the PSs to look after their Ministers and get along well with them.Perhaps there was more said that was not covered.What I thought ought to have been said was to remind the PSs of their responsibilities as Accounting Officers and of the PM’s and Government’s deep concern at the hundreds of millions of dollars of public funds that are not properly accounted for every year in the auditor’s reports and of the need to be consummate professionals at all times.The latter would have including saying no to improper demands from Ministers.Up to around 2007 I had seen numerous examples of PSs saying no to Ministers and taking their accounting responsibilities seriously.In FA every penny of public funds used to be properly accounted for in the Auditor’s Reports.I and others were therefore mortified to see FA listed in 2014 as the Ministry with the third largest quantum of public funds not accounted for properly and to date there have been no consequences for any of those PSs.

  43. But I said that since earlier. Any fool would know that he decided on the guest list. Whose eyes he thinks he could pull the wool over? Steups!!!

  44. for 12 ppl? then his share is 7500 lol

  45. I fully support the PM’s call for accountability on this matter cause something just doesn’t add up here.

  46. You can use Charmaine as your PI

  47. Now Lasana. Time to unearth all the info surrounding the lifesport fiasco that saw the disappearance of billions of dollars

  48. He needs to be made an example of

  49. his own come out ,but there are others

  50. is not he alone ,is the whole bunch of them

  51. Time to take to the streets. Lets hear wat the investigation say

  52. life really unfair, most of us citizens living day to day and these politicians playing they selves,hmmm what a thing. we put them there,to live nice off we ink finger.

  53. De next Anil Roberts in de making.

  54. Excellent. Kudos to the PM. Hòpe something comes out if it. Waiting with baited breadth.

  55. Allyuh leave Daryl alone eh – he went Tobago to put dong a wuk. On his return he said ‘that was performance’!
    After all, 3 extra women went on the trip and no one complained!

  56. Not taking no chain-up from anyone! talk done!

  57. So wait, you going on a trip and not aware of who going? Was there even a budget? The tail wagging the dog..look lemme go eat my curry eh

  58. i can fix Cindy’s golf swing…will need about four or five weekends at the golf cou…come to think of it….never mind.

  59. No need to write any report, just send Sharmain’s two articles