Misir says unable to add to 'grave concern' statement By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
April 24, 2007

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A Government of Guyana statement issued on Monday expressed "grave concern" on the lead story in the Monday April 23 edition of the Stabroek News headlined 'Cricket expense US$54M - sources' stating that it wished "to place on record its grave concern that the article is based on rife speculation and appears designed to reach sensational conclusions."

The statement, issued by the Government Information Agency (GINA), was sent to some other sections of the media on Monday evening but it was not made available to Stabroek News. After enquiries yesterday, GINA told this newspaper that it was e-mailed to Stabroek News' e-mail address but a review of the e-mails for Monday showed that other GINA press releases had been, not that one.

Asked why the government deemed the report "rife speculation," Head of the President's Press and Publicity Unit Dr Prem Misir said he "wouldn't be able to add more" to the statement. He advised this reporter to wait for "a proper definitive report" from the University of the West Indies (UWI), which has been commissioned by the ICC CWC West Indies 2007 Inc to measure the Caribbean's performance in hosting the tournament. "For now we are not jumping the gun," Misir said.

He asked why Stabroek News had not sought information from Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr Frank Anthony and/or the Chief Executive Officer Karan Singh. This reporter explained that the information had been requested from both gentlemen, but they would only say that the sums spent were being tallied.

Stabroek News was yesterday unable to contact Dr Anthony who was reportedly at one meeting with two others to follow.

Asked about Guyana's expenditure on the staging of the six Super Eight matches held in Guyana from March 28 to April 29, Misir said, "We will make those statements at the appropriate time."

Asked whether he could say what was the sum of money spent for the operationalising of the Guyana LOC, which was registered under the name Guyana World Cup Inc, and funded by the government, Misir said, "I can't comment on LOC budget given that UWI has commenced the review".

Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the ICC CWC West Indies 2007 Inc Chris Dehring had said that while UWI was commissioned to do an overall assessment of all the host venues, he would expect that individual host venues also conduct their own assessments. He had also said that some of the economic impacts would not be measurable in the short term. He had made these comments to this newspaper during the match between the West Indies and Sri Lanka at Providence.

The article about which the government expressed grave concern reported: "Government's expenditure on infrastructure for the staging of six Super Eight matches of the ICC CWC 2007 tournament is in excess of US$53.6 million ($11B), some US$8.6 million over what the government had committed initially in its bid to host the event."

The article said that though there had been no report on the short-term return on the investment during the staging of the matches locally, ticket sales amounted to just over US$3 million of which 90% would be retained by the government and the remaining 10% would go to the ICC CWC West Indies 2007 Inc.

It also gave a breakdown of some of the expenditure; some of these figures were already in the public domain having been made known at the Private Sector Summit held at the International Convention Centre last year and reported on subsequently.

The article also said that it was expected that the infrastructural development, from both the public and private sectors would be seen as CWC 2007 legacies, which would benefit the economy in the medium and long term through the travel, tourism and hospitality industries.

According to Guyana's bid to host the event, contained in the Host Venue Agreement, the government had committed some US$45 million for the development of infrastructure, including the construction of a stadium, improvement of road and the expansion of the international airport.

Meanwhile, the Alliance For Change (AFC) has asked the government through the National Assembly three questions: the total sum spent on the staging of the matches; how much of the amount spent is recoverable and how much has to date been recovered; and whether the government would be preparing and publishing a comprehensive report on all matters pertaining to the hosting of the CWC Super Eight matches.

These questions were submitted on April 10, one day after the final Super Eight match was played here. And yesterday, the AFC presented a motion for the Economic Services Committee to review all processes and aspects of the preparation and hosting of the games; and to make recommendations for the viability of the stadium.