Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sports Natasha Barrow has been transferred back to the Ministry of Social Development.
The transfer from the Sports Ministry came after a luxury weekend in Tobago at the Magdalena Grand Hotel in mid-May, where Barrow, Sports Minister Darryl Smith and a contingent of ten attended the Tobago House of Assembly’s Sports Award prize giving ceremony.
Nine people were originally invited to make the trip but three staffers, including officials of the Sports Company, were later added.
That trip cost taxpayers $91,910.43 for a three-night stay at the Magdalena Grand where the awards were held.
Following a public outcry over the huge sum, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley requested a report on the trip from Smith. Rowley has indicated that after considering the report he will determine what action to take.
Barrow’s last public assignment at the Sports Ministry was her appearance on Monday at Parliament’s Joint Select Committee on Public Administration and Appropriations to account for the expensive trip.
Addressing the JLSC, Barrow admitted the cost of the hotel accommodation was “high”, but said those who went had to be there for other meetings carded for discussions in Tobago. She admitted that despite the size of the delegation, they did not look at any accommodation options.
When reports broke about the cost of the trip, Barrow ordered the ministry’s IT department to launch a probe to find out where the leak of internal memos with details of the trip had come from. That search turned up empty-handed.
Another Sport Ministry employee who went on the Tobago trip, former communications officer Kate Balthazar, was also transferred out of the ministry in the wake of the reports.
Barrow previously served at the Ministry of Social Development last year before her transfer to the Sports Ministry. The transfer means that Social Development now has two PSs, Barrow and Jacintha Bailey Sobers.
In a notice to staff yesterday, Minister Cherrie Ann Critchlow Cockburn welcomed Barrow back to the ministry. Barrow assumed duties yesterday.
Public administration Minister Maxie Cuffy confirmed to the Guardian that Deputy PS Ian Ramadhin will now act as PS in the Sports Ministry.
Efforts to contact Ministers Critchlow Cockburn and Smith were unsuccessful yesterday.