Sports Minister Darryl Smith yesterday said Princes Town MP Barry Padarath is wrong to allege that no funding has been allocated for the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Tobago. Padarath made this allegation during his contribution to the budget debate in the House of Representatives. Padarath said after Smith and a delegation from his ministry made a trip to Tobago earlier this year, no money was allocated for the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet. He recalled the trip cost $92,000 and included a site visit to the stadium. Padarath said he found no evidence of funding for the stadium in the 2018 Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP). He said he only found $14.7 million allocated in the PSIP for sporting grounds in Trinidad.
However, during the sitting, Smith showed Newsday that $5 million has been allocated for the Dwight Yorke Stadium for 2018. That funding is located in the 2018 Draft Estimates of Development Programme. This document also showed $5 million allocated for the construction of a swimming pool in Laventille, amongst the others sport projects listed for 2018. Smith said it was clear that Padarath,”hasn’t read the book or cannot read.” The minister said if Padarath cannot read, “he can come and check me anytime.” Smith reiterated that under the People’s Partnership, Irwin Park in Siparia was built for almost $200 million.
He said his trip to Tobago is nothing compared to, “the $400 million that we still cannot find in Life Sport or all the travels that occurred under the UNC.” Smith said the former permanent secretary in his ministry told a joint select committe that ministers do not select people to go on trips. “We learn. We dust off and move on,” he said. In his contribution, Padarath said flooding at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva was embarrassing the country. TT plays the United States tonight at the stadium in its final 2018 World Cup qualifier.
Padarath claimed infrastructure problems continue at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba, $300 million was wasted on its opening and Opposition parliamentarian never went to cricket matches there.
He further alleged that Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has travelled more overseas than Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar did as PM. Padarath alleged government ministers and other public officials were travelling first class.