GEORGETOWN, Guyana (GINA) -- Guyana’s minister of culture, youth and sport, Dr Frank Anthony, has described the removal of the Guyana-New Zealand match by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) that was initially slated for the Guyana National Stadium, as regrettable and spiteful.
He explained that it was not the government of Guyana that was hosting the match; it was the WICB and its local territorial board, the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB). As per procedure, the GCB made the relevant applications to the stadium, which was duly granted, as well as other concessions such as those for television crews. The minister explained that there was no interference of any sort as is being bandied around.
“There were no reasons why these matches should have been removed, none whatsoever, the WICB has its agents who would have made the arrangements and the venue was available and therefore the matches could have gone on,” he said.
He lamented the decision of the WICB and its directors from the GCB to tie the Cricket Administration Bill to the game being hosted in Guyana. These two issues, the minister explained had nothing to do with each other.
The Bill was tabled, discussed in the Parliament, and sent to a special select committee after which a report was compiled and laid in the House. The Bill was then debated and passed with the support of the main opposition party, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU).
The Bill is being prepared to be sent to the president for his assent and Anthony reiterated that this process has nothing to do with the hosting of a match in Guyana, particularly when all of the logistic arrangements were already in place.
“The two things are not together, they choose to tie it together and perhaps like a red herring they choose to remove the matches because of uncertainties, I don’t know what uncertainties they are talking about. From the government side there hasn’t been any… it was the WICB and the GCB call that led to the removal of the matches,” the sports minister said.
The Cricket Administration Bill is aimed at improving accountability and transparency of cricket in Guyana. The minister recalled that there has been a constant fight between the different groups in the GCB over the past five years. The issues and allegations range from poor accountability, to fraudulent elections.
There has also been the burning issue of corporate status of the GCB. According to the ruling of the chief justice, the GCB has to be a corporate body. Through the enactment of this Bill, the local body will be granted corporate status, which is something they have been seeking for a long time. The legislation will also give legal status to the Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo boards.
The Bill will also ensure that the assets of the GCB, which have been transferred to a private company, be returned to the GCB.
“That’s all this Bill is doing, things that were removed from the GCB and put into a private company would now come back to the GCB… it is the GCB’s assets and therefore the GCB must manage those assets,” the minister said.
In terms of accountability, the Bill will ensure that the GCB conducts financial audits and submit copies of the reports to the National Sports Commission and to the Parliament. This way, the minister said, people would become more aware of the financial status of the cricket board.
As it relates to allegations of rigged elections, the minister explained that a cricket ombudsman will be appointed, who will be impartial. The role of the ombudsman will be to ensure that the clubs from the three counties that will be permitted to vote at elections actually exist and are not phantom clubs.
In the Bill, the appointment of the ombudsman will be the sole responsibility of the minister of sports; once this is done, the role of the minister, the ministry and by extension the government, ceases.
He said that these issues came up because of the peculiar circumstances of Guyanese cricket.
“We can’t compare our circumstances with those in Trinidad nor Barbados, we do not have the same conditions, and we have unique challenges that arise why our legislation is different from other legislation… I cannot see why people would be against a Bill that is going to bring more accountability and transparency in cricket in Guyana. Everybody should come onboard and support it because this is a good thing,” Anthony said.