Princes Town MP, Barry Padarath has issued a call for Prime Minister Keith Rowley to investigate allegations into the conduct and operations of the Daryl Smith Foundation. Padarath indicated that recently the Minister of Sport was caught red handed making contradictory statements regarding the setting up of the foundation and the Minister’s involvement into its operations.
Padarath noted that the Minister of Sport, when recently asked on a morning television program indicated that the foundation was not legally constituted and was the product of over-zealous supporters of his. However, records both in the social and mainstream media shows that the Minister of Sport himself has been championing the Daryl Smith Foundation and has advanced publicly that the foundation is closely associated to the work that he does as a Member of Parliament in Diego Martin Central.
In a media report in the Trinidad Newsday Newspaper on Friday December 23rd, 2016, the Minister of Sport launched the Daryl Smith Foundation and indicated that the funding for the organization as coming “from good Samaritans”. Under the Integrity in Public Life Act, Members of Parliament and others are required to disclose financial statements and gifts. They are subjected to public scrutiny when it comes to source of funds to avoid bringing their position into disrepute. Therefore, the question remains whether any funds were solicited in the Minister’s name? Whether any contributions have been made from persons, organizations and companies who have interest in the Ministry of Sport? Whether there are any bank accounts that have been set up in the name of the Daryl Smith Foundation? Was any of this information disclosed to the integrity commission?
The Princes Town MP noted that over the past few weeks there has been allegations in the public domain that continues to undermine the public trust and confidence in an already beleaguered office of the Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs after the Tobago fiasco surrounding the misuse of over $92,000 in tax payer’s dollars. Padarath stated that when these allegations first arose, the Attorney General indicated that the Minister of Sport will on his return from an overseas trip to China, have to answer about the Daryl Smith Foundation and whether any funds were contributed to the foundation from contractors engaged with the Ministry of Sport. Further, the MP noted that one of the contractors at the center of the allegation that has contributed to the Daryl Smith Foundation, received a recommendation to the SPORTT to have their payments expedited; these documents have found their way into the public domain.
Padarath noted that several media reports suggest that the Minister of Sport has been avoiding answering questions on the Daryl Smith Foundation and he therefore feels that the Prime Minster must take action on this matter immediately and launch an investigation. The Princes Town MP indicated that this was a very similar situation to the Marlene McDonald fiasco regarding the Calabar Foundation and indicated that the Prime Minister owed a duty to the people of Trinidad and Tobago to ensure that these allegations are properly investigated. Padarath further stated that in light of the inconsistent public statements already made by Minister Daryl Smith on his involvement with the Daryl Smith Foundation, he should be asked to step down until the completion of any investigation into the matter.