Home / Live Wire / Barrow wheeled over to Social Development; PS transferred after Tobago spending spree

Barrow wheeled over to Social Development; PS transferred after Tobago spending spree

Natasha Barrow, formerly the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs’ Permanent Secretary and Sport Minister Darryl Smith’s personal travel agent, is on the move in the first notable fall-out at the MoSYA after last month’s infamous Tobago splurge at the Magdalena.

Barrow authorised a TT$92,000 bill for 12 ministry officials—including Sport Minister Smith, his wonderfully named personal assistant Cindy Cupid and his communications officer and chunkaloonks Kate Balthazar—to hand over one trophy in a 75 minute long THA Sports Awards function.

Photo: Sport Minister Darryl Smith (right) takes a hands-on and communications officer Kate Balthazar.
Smith has a firm grip of the Sport Ministry’s assets; but who is looking out for the treasury?

A three day trip at a pricey hotel to deliver a single trophy—even as Paralympic gold medalist Akeem Stewart was searching desperately for TT$80,000 to aid his July 2017 World Para Athletics Championship preparations?

Barrow described it as value for money before adding that perhaps she “could have been a little more prudent in terms of the number of persons and the time frame.”

The Government’s response? Barrow will now serve as PS at the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services. Because if there is one State body that could do with same loose spending, it is the poor devils who rely on Social Development, right?

Presumably Barrow can now invite 11 officials for a weekend at the Hyatt before less than half their number head out on Monday morning to see disadvantaged persons served soup. Mr Live Wire wouldn’t trust Barrow to provide value for money with $100 at the Dollar Store.

Of course the problem is bigger than Barrow and the current administration. During her light grilling at the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee—Live Wire was hoping for deep fried but had to settle for sautéed—Barrow claimed that there was no limit or formula for spending on such trips.

“I would use my judgment,” said Barrow.

Photo: Sport Minister Darryl Smith (left) and his then Permanent Secretary and travel agent Natasha Borrow.
Won’t it be cheaper to use Bookings.com?
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

In short, the KFC drive-through is a more efficient and professional workspace than the Trinidad and Tobago Public Service; because you can be damned sure that the woman at the window knows precisely how many ketchup packs she is allowed to serve you. And you better have a formal proposal in writing complete with recommendations and a guarantor if you expect to get mustard with that.

If the Public Service takes lessons from anyone, it won’t be a profitable private multi-national company. More likely than not, it is a certain global church that tends to misplace touchy-feely priests whenever an overwhelmed altar boy spills the beans.

So blogger Sharmain Baboolal’s fine investigative work means only that Barrow takes her “financial prudence” from one Ministry to the next.

A well-travelled Permanent Secretary, by this evidence, is about as trustworthy as a priest with a SnapChat account and dozens of stamps on his passport.

Say a prayer for the flock. Because we can’t seem to get rid of these flockers.

Photo: Fore! Cindy Cupid, the personal assistant to Sport Minister Darryl Smith, enjoys herself at the Magdalena golf course on a weekend excursion at taxpayers’ expense.

AboutMr. Live Wire

Mr. Live Wire
Mr. Live Wire is an avid news reader who translates media reports for persons who can handle the truth. And satire. Unlike Jack Nicholson, he rarely yells.

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161 comments

  1. Wheel barrow reach out…..rolling through…..just hope some are not too heavy to move!!!

  2. Money in the treasury is to be used for the PEOPLE of the country not to spend for a weekend get away for persons who work in Gov’t! Regular folks can’t get funding for medical procedures or even to represent the country as the Para-Olympics, but some privileged few can practice strokes on a golf course! Only in Trinidad.

    • Our money is not to be spent on joy rides I am fed up of these people using our money to have a good time and to put in their pockets. When are we going to wake up do u all remember the recession when A N R Robinson was in power things were real bad then he had to introduce austerity measures which we did not like. I think he was one of the best Prime Ministers at the time. I think Dr. Rowley is pandering to the people to look good these are real hard times things have to change asap damit

  3. Why transfer her along Mr Smith should also be transferred

  4. What is the big deal about 92k for 12 persons on the week end trip. A hotelier gave an accounting for the dollars spent and found they were in line. What appears to be the problem is the size of the contingent; innuendos on love ❤️ relationships with Smith and Balthazar . Just plain bacchanal talk.

  5. Anywhere you put them they will still thief pnm all the time red and ready

  6. PS are accounting officers and are not to be controlled by any Minister if they do their jobs as they r suppose to they would not be in this mess. This country is in a state of decay no Government can save this country it begins with every individual to do the right thing and love your country first. People do not realise that they r thieving from them self. I can say as a person who love my country first I GIVE UP I feel sorry for my children and grandchildren

  7. Here we go again… asinine leadership. No performance improvement process, no consequences for failure to uphold one’s responsibilities. Just push the dust under the mat. The incompetence remains and stupidity prevails as well.

  8. When you’re big, you’re large.

  9. Like all these sport ministers like hotel rooms and other ppl woman….

  10. Ministries are like football clubs, apparently?

  11. She is a public servant they can she so all you don’t know that

  12. A problem was transferred..no solution she should be fired

  13. Shuffling a pack of jokers and expecting a royal flush is akin to “doing the same thing over and over and….”

  14. She was previously transferred from Social Dev to Ministry of Sport. No big deal..

  15. A promotion or a transfer that’s pnm style.

  16. They put her there cuz that ministry has no money to spend!

  17. She was at that ministry before

  18. “Chunkaloonks”Lollollollol….PS was certainly the ‘fall guy’,only to be shifted to another ‘school’ like many delinquents are.

  19. That What They Do,Shuffle There Ladies! like Musical Chairs,In The PNM,Inner Circle,I Wonder Who Will Be Next On Her Timeline ?

  20. Does her being transferred mean there is no further action?
    I do not presume they are both mutually exclusive.

  21. Tax payers money again ,same crap different day no accountability

  22. This problem should be solved not transferred. Rubbish.

  23. Oh yeah, I saw this one. Thought there was a part 3

  24. There is another thing we are not discussing Lasana Liburd. The responsability for moving PS’s in the service falls on the PS to PM. Also the PS to PM cannot and does not take instructions from anyone else other than the PM. So in this senario the PM would have gotten the report from the Minister of Sport and not dismissed him. The PS appeared before a JLSC and did not avail herself well at all and may have evem embrassed the Minister. So the PM would have instructed the PS to PM to remove her or the PS to PM would have moved her. For me this therefore leads to question of both the PM and the PS to PM as to justifications as to why she was moved?

    • I hear you in theory. But isn’t there supposed to be separation of powers?
      Maybe there can be unofficial influence, but hopefully not official influence.

      • Separation of powers principle applies to the Executive, Judiciary and Legislature.
        Yes, under the strict Weber’s bureaucratic rule, there is supposed to be separation of functions (not SOP), where the Minister is supposed to be in charge of policy and the Public Servants – the execution of those policies. Hence the PS being the Accounting Officer. The PNM ‘officially’ breached that when they held a retreat with Ministers and PSs in 2015, despite these collusions ‘unofficially’ occurring within all Administrations for a long time.
        Who controls the PS, really controls the Ministry. This creates the opportunity for Ministers to misappropriate funds, manipulate procedures and victimise public servants. The separation of functions should be upheld, but that requires a strong PS.

    • This is not theory. I can say from personal experience that I had a Minister tell me once that the PS is not a supporter of his party and is obstructing his agenda and within a month she was removed.

    • Nerisha Mohammed the Prime Minister signs off on assignments of PSs.That is the process and has always been the case.

    • Rishi Maharaj, wow.
      Razia Ali, Oh, thanks. But doesn’t that just defy the whole separation of powers argument/logic?

    • Nerisha Mohammed the seperations of powers relates to the Executive, Legislative and Judicial. Noting to do with the administrative

    • No, Nerisha,that is not relevant here.

    • Excellent point. Now does the PM and/or his PS have to justify moving around permanent secretaries?
      If not, then how can the permanent secretaries be insulated from politics?
      Seems to me that is one gaping hole in whatever act governs the Public Service.

  25. I do agree the PS should shoulder some responsibility, but if you read the blog, you will see where the PS was merely being informed by the Minister’s assistant

    • Savitri, I saw some of the responses of the PS on the Parliament channel.She is clueless as to her responsibilities as Accounting Officer.Most of the responsibility for this mess is hers and hers alone.

    • Ok it could happen. Although the Minister’s assistant should not have such authority.

    • How can she be clueless? She’s not a stranger to the portfolio. She was in other ministries before

    • Theory and practical application don’t always mesh and yes, I agree she made a mess at that hearing.

    • Greer Cave that means nothing nowadays.There are no standards anymore.

    • Razia Ali she was a DPS and she acted many times as a PS, so she knows the job

    • Greer Cave clearly she does not! The evidence is there.

    • Greer Cave and Razia Ali, but there is an exam to be a DPS! And from a clerk 1 ought to be familiar with the financial regulations.

    • That’s what I’m saying. Barrow had been a DPS for years so she knows the ropes. She’s​ not new to this

    • Yes, there is Nerisha,and I wonder about the standards.I have supervised persons who would not even have made Clerk II in the past;they are that bad,who passed that DPS exam.If you accept that the Public Service has degenerated into a welfare system then it all makes sense.It was once a place of serious work but it has not been that for more than a decade.And the fact that someone has been in an Office means nothing.We saw evidence of that with PS Barrow two days ago.There are solutions of course but they will require tough actions which no one is prepared to take.I was living and working in London when Margaret Thatcher did it with the British Public Service.So no young person of quality will touch the current Public Service with a bargepole and appearances of PSs before Parliamentary Committees will continue to anger the citizenry and provide opportunities to snigger by those who have come to expect nothing better from the public sector.

    • Ihu. But yup, seems the standards in the public service have been allowed to deteriorate.
      The question is, who is responsible for training staff. Because the public service is unique, and there are courses specific to its needs.
      I know even young people coming into the service had to be familiar with the public service regulations, financial regulations and a number of other policies, custom and practice.
      And for John public looking on, when action is not taken where/when it may be deemed necessary, how then do you expect to have concerns about lower level staff addressed, such as poor service?

    • Training use to take place years ago but now it’s who you know apparently.

    • I want someone to do a search of barrows trajectory in he public service.
      I have worked in seven ministries I think and never encountered such a young and obviously feckless PS.
      More game with jaunts with the minister than her office and what used to be a weighty responsibility.

      Her and the PS of life support.
      The tide has turned. And this is just me, a professional consultant speaking

  26. Well the transfers are nothing new. They are commonplace in the public sector. The ttps has managed to master this art, followed closely by the teaching service…. Remind me what “Cabinet shuffles” are again? Ole wine….

  27. This thread is very interesting.
    You all should let barrow know you all can sign up to be her defense, to weave stories to shield her camp, cover her tracks when she signs off on her group menage vacations

  28. Like nobody really ent read Sharmain’s blog?

  29. Is this the PM’s answer to the report? What happened to the Minister and his assistant?

  30. This place is a joke..we like it so…

  31. Ministers need to be held accountable as well. How can a minister allow a relative, who is employed with the ministry under his portfolio, be just sitting at a desk doing nothing and getting paid at the end of the month?

  32. So no punishment for wrongdoing….

  33. I like this.We therefore intend to wheel and deal.

  34. Merely transferring the problem.She will make a mess elsewhere and in all probability an equally useless PS will go to Sport and Youth Affairs and thus it continues.If she had been surcharged for the profligate spending as is permitted under the Financial Regulations it would have sent a signal to her and to others.When the next Auditors reports are presented there will be many millions of dollars unaccounted for as usual by those PSs and still no consequences.And if you are the THA $35 billion not audited in a decade!

  35. Is this the PM’s answer to the report?

  36. So much irony I can’t even…

  37. The PS has to take the fall cause they are the Accounting Officer. They can say no, I’ve seen it done before where they refused to compromise themselves to gain favor with a minister.
    Just ask Tim about the one he had escorted off the Ministry’s compound.

    • I know sometimes that the PS do try but they are bombarded. It takes a strong person to stand up to a minister

    • Reminiscent of the UNC when one PS followed Jack Warner to every Ministry he was transferred to. Another Boodram flew off to Brazil and did not inform anyone including the head of the PS , She was rewarded with a promotion to OPM . So PS do wrong, who are the accountable to? You simply transfer them. The more things change , they more they remain the same. Darryl and Barrow should be brought in front a panel to explain their misconduct in public office. I tired people of the nonsense.

    • Greer Cave, but we know the new modus operandi is to move PSs. That historically never used to happen until the last few years.
      Maybe it’s time it is finally addressed.

  38. She was the DPS in Education for a while

  39. As is always the case Lasana Liburd, the PS as the Accounting always takes the fall. In my experience it is either comply with the Minister’s request or be moved. An trust me I have seen it happen. This was mastered done by Ministers in the PP reign with PS’s whom Ministers saw as blocking them.

  40. And that’s the end of that!