T&T Sport Minister threatens to quit

(Trinidad Express) Sport Minister Anil Roberts has threatened to resign.

According to Government sources, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar told the minister that if he intends to follow through, he should submit  his resignation to Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran, who will be acting as Prime Minister next week.

The drama unfolded at the Cabinet meeting on Thursday when Roberts took issue over the Cabinet’s decision to retain Daniel Solomon as chairman of the Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA) board.

Three Government ministers confirmed to the Express at the Parliament yesterday that Roberts signalled he was going to walk if the decision was not changed.

The tenure of majority of the State boards expired late last year and Cabinet is currently reviewing the positions.

Sport Minister Anil Roberts displays a photo of two female bodybuilders during his presentation of the Anti-Doping in Sport Bill at yesterday’s sitting of the Lower House in Port of Spain. (Trinidad Express photo)
Sport Minister Anil Roberts displays a photo of two female bodybuilders during his presentation of the Anti-Doping in Sport Bill at yesterday’s sitting of the Lower House in Port of Spain. (Trinidad Express photo)

The CDA board has been plagued with contention and challenges and as it stands now Cabinet has to appoint a new board.

The Express understands that when Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar asked whether Solomon should be retained as chairman, there was strong objection from Roberts and he indicated he would relinquish his portfolio if Solomon stays.

Some Government ministers present praised the Prime Minister for her handling of the situation.

A source said Persad-Bissessar does not run her Cabinet based on singular views— she puts the questions to the Cabinet and decisions are made with the majority support.

The source said the Prime Minister was stern and calm when she told Roberts she would be out of the country next week and therefore he should submit his resignation to Dookeran.

The Prime Minister will be leaving for Washington on Sunday to attend the Organisation of American States’ (OAS) Americas-Africa Business Forum.

She will return on April 20 following which she leaves for an official visit to Canada on April 23.

Sources told the Express that ministers were shocked by Roberts position and thought he was joking—but he indicated that he was serious.

Roberts, a member of the Congress of the People (COP), has been one of the ministers who stoutly defends the Prime Minister in whatever issues may arise.

The minister has had a lot on his plate from internal strife within the COP over strong positions taken by him against the party and with respect to the controversial Boxing Board.

Most recently, Roberts took the media to task—in particular the Guardian over an erroneous report. He has since taken legal action against the newspaper.

Roberts had also threatened to sue COP chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan for statements she made to the Guardian on the issue.

Questioned during the Parliament’s tea break, Seepersad-Bachan said she did not receive a pre-action protocol letter but instead got a letter asking for an apology.

She refused to comment further on the issue but maintained that her comments were based on principle and not specifically directed at Roberts. Calls and text messages to Roberts by the Express yesterday were not responded to up to press-time.

Earlier, speaking on the Anti- Doping in Sport Bill, Laventille East/Morvant MP Donna Cox advised Roberts to deal with the issues surrounding the Boxing Board.

She said a year ago she warned about the consequences of putting Buxo Potts, a boxing promoter, as an adviser to the Boxing Board.

Cox said the board itself knew nothing about this appointment.

She also pointed out that the Boxing Board Act states that no member of the board shall be interested in the administration or executive of any promoting body of professional boxing and no member of the board shall be interested in any promoter or receive payment of any kind from such promoter or promoting bodies.

“So what has been done here to circumvent this law Mr Speaker, is to put Buxo Potts as an adviser to the board so that he attends board meetings and makes pertinent contributions as a representative of the minister,” said Cox.

“I ask the minister to address these issues surrounding Mr Buxo Potts and the Trinidad and Tobago Boxing Board,” said Cox.

She also cautioned the minister about appointing family and friends to various committees and boards.

Cox said that the future of sport in this country lies in Roberts’s hands as he will be the minister until 2015.

 

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