Sunset laws approved
By Chamanlall Naipaul
November 3, 2006
A MAJOR requirement for Guyana’s hosting Cricket World Cup 2007, the third largest international sporting event, has been met with the unanimous approval of the ICC (International Cricket Conference) World Cup West Indies 2007 Bill, referred to as the Sunset legislation, in the National Assembly yesterday.
Chief Executive Officer of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), Mr Karran Singh and several of his staffers were at the sitting to witness the historic passage of the legislation.
A minor amendment to the Bill was proposed by governing People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) member, Mr Bernard De Santos which was also approved without opposition.
De Santos said the decision taken to host the event was momentous but “unlike anything we have undertaken in the past”.
He suggested that a Clause 55A be included in the Bill to cater for an alternative of imprisonment not exceeding nine months as an alternative to the fines for offences committed.
He said the original proposed Bill did not have such a provision and if someone is found guilty he/she could have claimed they do not have the money, thus creating a dilemma for the court.
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr Frank Anthony, moving the second reading of the Bill, stressed the importance of cricket to Guyana and the Caribbean and declared: “Cricket is an integral part of the Guyanese ethos, and indeed the ethos of the Caribbean.”
Tracing briefly the glorious history of West Indian cricket, Anthony recalled that that it began in the late 1920s and in 1929-30 when the West Indies won its first test match against a visiting English team.
He also noted that the West Indies won the first two Cricket World Cup tournaments in 1975 and 1979 held in England.
Alluding to the vast challenges posed by hosting the international event, Anthony assured that this has not swept away the zeal of the government
While some may argue that a lot of money is being invested in hosting the tournament, the minister asserted that this has to be viewed against the tremendous economic, social and cultural benefits it will bring to the country, through greater investments and an influx of an estimated 37,000 tourists.
He said the Bill is unique and required a lot of effort on the part of those involved in drafting it and commended their contribution.
However, he pointed out that the legislation is not eternal and will end at a prescribed date.
Importantly too, the minister explained, some provisions of the legislation may override some of the rights of Guyanese but the right of the aggrieved is prescribed within the Bill for them to seek resort in the courts.
Hailing the cooperative spirit between the government and opposition in preparing for the event, Anthony exhorted members of the House to “drown partisan actions under this new spirit of cooperation.”
While the opposition pledged full support, some members of the main opposition People’s National Congress Reform One Guyana (PNCR-1G) raised concerns they feel should be addressed.
Ms Clarissa Riehl felt the Bill should have been introduced earlier and her party should have been privy to the contents of the Hosting Venue Agreement (HVA). She also said as she understood it the deadline for the passage of the Bill was November 1 but it was approved yesterday.
Karran, who spoke with the Guyana Chronicle, expressed surprise that Riehl raised such concerns because the PNCR’s representatives on the LOC were privy to the HVA and would have expected them to provide the relevant information to the party.
With respect to the deadline, Singh said he informed the ICC and CWC officials that the Bill would be passed on November 2 and they were happy on receiving the news so he did not foresee a difficulty with that.
Riehl also raised concerns about the exorbitant fines in the Bill for offences such as encroaching on the field by spectators and violating traffic arrangements.
She contended that the Guyanese spectator cricket culture should be taken into account.
Anthony in his response said the laws are not meant to be punitive but to act as a deterrent, and such provisions have to be accepted as they are a standard requirement.
He added that it is necessary to send a message that Guyana is serious about protecting the investments by the sponsors.
Co-leader of the Alliance for Change (AFC), Mr Khemraj Ramjattan also supported the heavy penalties because businesses spend vast sums and must have exclusivity to get returns.