Cricket expense story pure speculation - Luncheon
Stabroek News
April 29, 2007

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Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon on Thursday added to criticisms of a lead story in the Monday, April 23 edition of the Stabroek News headlined 'Cricket expense US $54M - sources' calling it "pure idle speculation and sensationalist".

His comment follows a statement issued on Monday to other sections of the media, but excluding this newspaper, in which head of the President's Press and Publicity Unit Dr Prem Misir deemed the report "rife speculation". Misir later said that he was not able to add more to the statement.

Luncheon at his post cabinet media briefing was asked to share his thoughts on the article but he too could not provide any solid information as to how much the world class event had cost the administration.

Instead Luncheon said, "It's pure speculation ...I don't believe that any kind of activity has been done to generate that information that is of a quality to support a presentation [on the] front page and that dramatic focus."

The government spokesman said this was the point the administration wanted to make and he did not doubt that there would be a point in time when all the calculations would be made; additions and subtractions done.

"Until that is done they [SN] ain't anywhere close… Somebody seems to be committed to promoting opportunities of sensationalizing things at that newspaper level," Luncheon said .

The earlier government statement released through its information agency (GINA) said the government wished "to place on record its grave concern that the article is based on rife speculation and appears designed to reach sensational conclusions."

Misir had told this newspaper that it should wait for a "proper definitive report" from the University of the West Indies, which has been commissioned by the ICC CWC West Indies 2007 Incorporated to measure the region's performance in hosting the tournament

He also asked why Stabroek News had not sought information from Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr Frank Anthony and/or Chief Executive Officer of the LOC Karan Singh. Misir insisted too that statements about Guyana's expenditure on the stages of the six Super Eight matches held here from March 28 to April 29 would be made 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 would 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 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.

And on Tuesday, the AFC presented a motion for the Economic Services Commit-tee to review all processes and aspects of the preparation and hosting of the games; and to make recommendations for the viability of the stadium.