Sunrise for sunset law -fines range from $800,000 to $4.2M
World Cup 2007
By Miranda La Rose
November 3, 2006
The way has now been cleared for Guyana to take part in hosting the ICC CWC 2007 tournament next year with the unanimous support of the National Assembly for the enabling bill also known as the sunset legislation.
The bill entitled the 'ICC Cricket World Cup West Indies 2007 Bill 2006' was passed with one amendment which was an insertion of an alternative penalty of a prison term not exceeding nine months for offences committed.
However, the enactment of legislation was one day past the deadline date of November 1 which the organizing body for the ICC CWC 2007 tournament had set and which host venues, including Guyana, had agreed to. Guyana is among the last, if not the last, of the nine host venues to pass the sunset legislation required as part of the host venue agreement.
The bill has made provisions for fines ranging from $800,000 to $3.2 million dollars and in the case of second offences $4.2 million. Hawkers and 'streakers' face fines of $300,000 dollars.
PPP/C MP Bernard De Santos proposed the amendment and moved a motion to have the bill amended, noting that if the bill was to pass without the alternative of a sentence there would always be the possibility of someone saying they were not going to pay the fines and get away with the offence because there was no alternative penalty.
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr Frank Anthony, who presented the bill to parliament on Monday, yesterday led the debate on it and also wound it up. He noted the comments of the various speakers, particularly the points put forward by PNCR MP and Deputy Speaker, Clarissa Riehl on the fines which were described as extremely high by Guyanese standards.
Dr Anthony said that while the fines appear to be harsh the framers of the law did not mean that they should be punitive but rather they should serve as a deterrent.
He noted that Guyana was not the first country to accept the provisions of the law but other Caricom countries had done the same to ensure the protection of the tournament, the teams and the sponsors among others who would have invested large sums of money and energy towards the hosting of the event.
He agreed with several speakers including Riehl, PNCR MPs Basil Williams and Mervyn Williams, as well as AFC MP Khemraj Ramjattan, who noted the need for an aggressive public awareness campaign on what the sunset legislation means, particularly where ambush marketing was concerned.
On the reasons for the late passage of the bill, Dr Anthony said that the draft of the model legislation was received from Caricom in June after it was approved by the region's attorney generals, who had pronounced favourably on it after it had been subject to several drafts. The bill was patterned after the South African model. South Africa hosted the last ICC CWC tournament. He noted that shortly after the draft was received parliament went into recess and this was followed by parliament being dissolved to facilitate the holding of general and regional elections on August 28.
Riehl, however, was of the view that there was some amount of procrastination on the passage of the bill, since it was received in time for passage even before parliament went into recess. While she noted that Dr Anthony has said in the media that the bill was going to be retroactive from November 1, she pointed out that there was no retroactivity clause. She urged, "We must always strive to get things done on time."
She applauded Prime Minister Sam Hinds for approaching the PNCR for its support to which the PNCR responded positively. With less than five month to the start of the event and with an unprecedented number of visitors expected in Guyana, she said that "failure is not an option" for Guyana in meeting the 24 deliverables to stage the tournament.
In his presentation Minister of Labour and TUF MP, Manzoor Nadir in response to Riehl's comments on the fines being too high for Guyanese cricket fans who out of habit and enthusiasm might commit some of the offences, said that there should be no compromise in the protection of players. He recalled play being halted at Bourda on one occasion when enthusiastic fans swarmed the field even before the last run was scored thereby interrupting the game. He referred to games elsewhere where missiles are thrown at players.
He said that while the fines were the highest ever imposed in Guyana, they were in keeping with international standards in hosting world class events. "We cannot conduct these games indulging and entertaining antics. We have to get it right," he said.
Blessing in disguise
Joining the debate, Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee who is responsible for public order and safety of the games referred to the provisions of the bill which give the Commissioner of Police the right to institute measures for pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
Referring to the concerns expressed by the opposition on the fines of $800,000 for traffic offences, Rohee said that the driving public and pedestrians would be informed on which roads would be closed and those that would not be closed.
As minister with responsibility for immigration he noted that a number of immigration officers were in training to deal with the influx of visitors at the various ports of entry. He said, too, that the issue of a common immigration document for all the host countries would be settled by the end of this month and Guyana is also one of the incoming countries that would begin issuing visas by the end of December.
Responding to a comment by Mervyn Williams on the cost Guyana is bearing to host the event, Rohee said that the cost "must be weighed against the benefits" to be gained, which includes Guyana being in the spotlight and being assessed by 2.5 billion viewers. Noting that staging the event was helping Guyana to build capacity in a number of areas never considered before, he said that "Cricket is a blessing in disguise" for Guyana.
Guyana would be hosting six of the Super Eight matches in the championship from March 27 to April 9 and is expected to host some 30,000 cricket fans over the tournament period.
The legislation, which would cover the period in the run up to the CWC 2007, would become null and void on June 30, 2007.