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Ramsaran stands up against TTCB critics
Executive member of the T&T Cricket Board (TTCB) Manohar Ramsaran says National League Club representative Kiswah Chaitoo must apologise to Minister of Sports Shamfa Cudjoe for disrespecting her office.
Ramsaran, who himself is a former minister of sports, made the call after Chaitoo said that there is no need for the TTCB executive to meet with Cudjoe as the controversy rages on about a year-old National Gas Company (NGC) audit into sponsorship funds granted to the national cricket organization.
The internal NGC report found that 24 per cent of funds given between 2014 and 2016 were re-allocated to other cricket development programmes which were not itemized in the Memorandum of Understanding between the parties.
On Thursday, Ramsaran, president of the Monroe Road Sports Club said that in a rush to judgement, Chaitoo had crossed the line in criticising the minister for wanting to meet with TTCB officials and get a first-hand grip on the issue.
He said Chaitoo of the South Zonal Council is a known adversary of the TTCB but should not have faulted Minister Cudjoe for her willingness to meet with the organisation to get all the information on the matter.
Ramsaran maintained that the procedural audit conducted by the NGC early last year found no wrongdoing or misappropriation of funds and that the pointing of fingers was another attempt by leading critics of the TTCB Daren Ganga and Dinanath Ramnarine, two former national players, to cast aspersions on the character and integrity of the top cricket administrators.
He said Chaitoo was culpable in aiding and abetting Ganga and fired Sports Company chairman Ramnarine in an attempt to force out a democratically elected national executive through innuendo and misinformation.
“I can state categorically and emphatically that the TTCB has nothing to hide because no member benefitted from the re-allocation of the sponsorship funds. Every cent went into cricket and not in anyone's pocket,” said Ramsaran.
Ramsaran said that when the audit was completed last year, the TTCB made a formal request to acquire a copy but was politely denied by the NGC who informed the board that it was an internal exercise conducted to assist their sponsorship system going forward.
It was also disclosed that Ganga even tried to get a copy of the audit report from the NGC and was told the same. This was before he allegedly managed to get his hands on a leaked copy which then found its way into the possession of a daily newspaper.
The experienced cricket administrator said it was unfortunate that disgruntled members of the local cricket fraternity were willing to take extreme measures to acquire power and create a smokescreen to achieve their objectives while there is so much positive news about cricket at this time.
“The West Indies 'A' team is currently on their tour on England led by our own Jason Mohammed; the regional development team is playing with great success in the inaugural Canadian T20 League; and the Test side is showing welcomed improvement in its recent home series against Sri Lanka and now playing against Bangladesh,” said Ramsaran.
He said T&T cricketers continue to play a leading role in the resurgence of West Indies and their performances can be directly traced back to the plans and programmes of the TTCB.
“I will never be part of a dishonest organization as my life is an open book having been involved in the public domain for a long while. If I am aware that there is wrongdoing I will be the first to walk away,” said Ramsaran.
He said he had the utmost confidence in the Suruj Ragoonath, up to recently the Chief Executive Officer of the TTCB; Baldath Mahabir, head of the TTCB Marketing Committee; and board treasurer Sukesh Maniam who were directly responsible for the execution of the sponsorship programme with the NGC.
Ramsaran appealed for good sense to prevail in the current antagonistic atmosphere in Ganga and Ramnarine continue their quest to unseat the present administration using unorthodox and highly debatable means.
“Cricket is suffering now because of the actions of a few misguided persons and I call on everyone truly committed to the local game to put aside their animosity and let us all work together in the best interest of our young people,” said Ramsaran.
He welcomed the opportunity for the TTCB to meet with Minister Cudjoe as her ministry has continuously given the cricket board high marks for its accountability and transparency.
He said government officials will best understand the process in which funds allocated for a specific purpose, if unspent after all expenses have been covered, can be legally reallocated to other areas within the framework agreed on.
“This is a common occurrence in ministries and local government bodies which do not constitute corruption or misbehaviour in public office. But some people have seen an opportunity to make mileage out of a situation to fulfil their own objectives and this is unfortunate,” said Ramsaran.
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