One of the country’s best known Sports Journalists, Senator Raymond Roberts is not happy with the large sum of money that is to be used to light the Cricket Stadium at Queen’s Park, St. George’s.
During his contribution to the recent debate in the Upper House of Parliament on the 2017 budget, Sen. Roberts chided the Keith Mitchell-led administration for proceeding with plans to light the stadium rather than concentrating on boosting the health sector.
He said lighting a Cricket Stadium cannot be a top priority at this time for any government.
“I seriously question the commitment of the government to health… How could any serious government or Leader think about lighting a Cricket Stadium, a Cricket Stadium that has absolutely no prospect of economic success?” he asked.
Last year, Mitchell’s New National Party (NNP) Government disclosed that it had secured a US$4.8M loan from the Canadian Bank Note Company to erect light fixtures at the stadium.
In presenting the 2017 budget, Prime Minister Mitchell who is also the Minister of Finance announced that the contract for lighting the National Cricket Stadium will be awarded very early in the New Year.
According to Sen. Roberts, the electorate should vote out of office any leader who would want to light a cricket stadium given the financial challenges facing the nation.
“Any thinking and thoughtful Leader who comes to this parliament and makes this boast certainly deserves another ‘no vote.’ I am convinced at this stage our leadership in this country is exhausted and is burnt out,” he said.
Sen. Roberts told the Upper House that he obtained some data from the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) which showed that Grenada has not lived up on the tickets given to it for the England/West Indies matches almost three years ago by not meeting all of the payments.
He noted that since the island started to host matches in the 2007 Cricket World Cup to present, the stadium has never been filled to capacity.
He believes that Grenada now stands in the “bad books” of the WICB, pointing out that the country has not been provided with a match in the current four-day regional cricket tournament.
According to Sen. Roberts, while the lighting of the Cricket Stadium may serve Dr. Mitchell’s ego well, he does not know that it is a good investment for Grenada.
“We can’t have health care in tatters and wasting money on lighting a stadium,” he said..
The Sports Journalist believes it would serve the country much better if government provides the Grenada Cricket Association in collaboration with the Grenada Olympic Committee with two million dollars to develop local cricket from the pre-primary stage right up to tertiary as a means of discovering the best talent.
The Labour Senator also used the Budget debate to make a plea to government to remove the gas tax levied on the Osprey shuttle to lower transportation cost to Grenada and its two sister islands, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
This move, he said would reduce the cost of travel for residents seeking medical attention on the mainland.
Sen. Roberts told the Senate meeting that he understands that it cost someone travelling from the Sisters Islands to receive health care in Grenada approximately $700.00 which includes travel expenses, doctor’s fee, and accommodation.
Osprey travels between Grenada and Carriacou once per day, and it is seen as the most affordable means of transportation between the three islands.
The Labour Senator also commented on remarks made by the Minister of Carriacou and Petit Martinique Affairs, Deputy Prime Minister Elvin Nimrod that blood samples coming from Carriacou and Petit Martinique to the mainland via Osprey for testing often remains on the boat instead of being efficiently taken to the General Hospital.
Sen. Roberts described the statement as a clear demonstration of the highest level of incompetence by a government minister and said that Nimrod should be sacked from Cabinet as he should accept responsibility for any such occurrence as the MP and Minister for the Constituency.
“A veteran politician, a veteran minister can’t ensure the health care of his people?” he asked.
According to Sen. Roberts, it is pathetic that given all the connection Minister Nimrod would have come into over the years as Foreign Affairs Minister, the No.2 man in government cannot pioneer a blood testing machine for Carriacou.
Another issue of grave concern raised by the Labour Senator is the disclosure by Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Carriacou and Petit Martinique Affairs, Sen. Norland Cox that the small island had a radiation machine but it is stored away.
“That is absolutely ridiculous… So clearly, leadership in Carriacou is static,” he said.