More lip than service to Sport – Part I

For some time, I have been insistent that successive Governments of St Vincent and the Grenadines have done little more than pay lip service to sport in the State. The contents of the most recent Budget presentation by this country’s Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister of Finance, only serves to highlight this unfortunate fact of Vincentian politics. This week’s column takes a more in-depth look at the presentation and addresses the major areas of concern.

For the first ten months of this financial year, we have already spent in excess of EC$23 million on the Arnos
Budget Content
In his 2007 Budget presentation Dr Gonsalves indicated the following under the section on sport.
“Government’s plans for upgrading the sporting infrastructure in St Vincent and the Grenadines to enhance the development of our youths are progressing satisfactorily. The Arnos Vale Cricket Facility has seen dramatic transformations and is more than 87 percent complete as at the end of October 2006.

Vale Sporting Complex, and altogether we will be spending approximately EC$40 million on this facility as well as Arnos Vale 2, Sion Hill and Stubbs venues, as well as on other Cricket World Cup activities.”
Interestingly, the Minister of Finance does not really engage us in any sort of cost benefit analysis. In fact, the benefits are more hoped for than an established component of any genuine national sports development plan.
Indeed it is even more difficult for the Minister of Finance to publicly declare just how the monies spent at Arnos Vale for some warm up matches that have no bearing on the outcome of the Cricket World Cup 2007 would really be of benefit to us. The problem here is exacerbated by the fact that the Minister of Finance seemed at one point to have been in the dark in respect of the true costs related to our preparatory exercise. There is reason for us to believe that he may have had cause to put a stop to what he may have perceived as excessive expenditures for the hosting of the warm up matches.
One notes that he was particularly careful not to venture into the realm of addressing the very poor ticket sales that have thus far taken place for our warm up matches. He has also been unable to address any medium-to-long-term plans for the use of the venue other than perhaps the hope that some use will be made in the future.
Those in authority at the level of the Local Organising Committee, LOC, are at best also hopeful that some long term planning will take place enough to satisfy themselves and the nation of the viability of the heavy expenditure.
Of course the Minister has also failed to take into account the state of cricket in St Vincent and the Grenadines where a local game, however critical in the competition is not likely to attract anybody other than those directly involved and where a regional encounter attracts less than 150 paying patrons.