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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…