Prime Minister Owen Arthur arrived
at Parliament to lead debate on the 2006-2007 Estimates of Expenditures
and Revenues yesterday.
PRIME Minister Owen Arthur yesterday sounded a warning
that he expects financial prudence to prevail in the redevelopment
of Kensington Oval for next year s Cricket World Cup.
Presenting the 2006/2007 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, the
Prime Minister said that while his Government will be spending $28
million to further prepare the country for the event, it will not
be giving an open-ended cheque.
We expect financial accountability to prevail, the
Prime Minister said in his opening remarks on the Estimates debate.
He recalled that when Government first saw the project, the estimated
bill was between $90 million to $100.
However, recent estimates suggest costs running as high as $170 million.
He said that he had a duty to intervene to make sure that the project
did not transform itself from being a $90 million to $100 million
project which we said we could afford, to a $170 million which we
knew we cannot afford .
The Prime Minister further said that there has been intervention to
ensure the country does not end up with a Kensington Oval that is
glorious in its features but could not be justified from a financial
point of view.
Arthur remarked that there have been times when he was accused of
being a dictator for becoming involved in the project.
According to him, I am prepared to be a financial dictator if it means
that a project that should cost no more than a hundred and small does
not end up costing $170 million . He reasoned that beyond a certain
financial stage and point this project will no longer be justified.
Prime Minister insisted as well that there must be no features built into
Kensington Oval that were not in the original design unless they are approved
specifically by the Board.
He explained that he has seen a recent projection of $6.7 million to provide
lights although there are no provisions for Barbados to host night cricket
matches in the tournament.
These are the kinds of things our interventions have been
designed to stop. Do that only which is necessary, rather than which people
feel should be done, the Prime Minister advised.
Arthur stated that while the Government is committed to hosting a World
Cup and while they will move heaven and earth, this will be done in a
financially responsible way.
He argued that there is too much of a tendency on the part of some to
believe that because Barbados is committed to hosting the event the country
would turn a blind eye to things that are financially unsustainable.
The government expects financial accountability and financial discipline
in relation to all matters related to the redevelopment of Kensington
Oval as the venue for the hosting of the World Cup, Arthur told the House
He said that his administration is keeping a very close eye on the project
and that he is receiving weekly reports on activities at Kensington Oval.
It is the determination of the government and the Ministry of Finance
that although we are committed to presenting the very best facility at
Kensington, we are not willing to do so at any price and we are not willing
to do so by accepting conditions and circumstances that suggest financial
discipline has been abandoned, he maintained.
The Prime Minister explained that his government had become involved in
the ownership of a company with the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA).
Government owns 90 per cent of the company.
We have left, however, the company to get on with the business of developing
the facility. We have a short time within which to do so and we expect
that from time to time decisions will have to be made ... to get the job