Former Sports Minister Roland Bhola has said that negotiations for funds for lighting of the Grenada Cricket Stadium were in the hands of the state-run Grenada National Lottery Authority and not government.
Bhola, then a government minister, told a post-Cabinet press briefing on October 3, 2016 that up to US$10-million had been secured as a loan for the lighting of the cricket arena.
At the time the former St. Andrew North-east Member of Parliament said that work was mere weeks away from commencing on lighting the stadium.
Two years and five months later nothing has been done, although a contract was said to have been awarded to a British company which had won the bidding process.
The absence of night lighting at the cricket stadium became a public issue this week with the staging of two one-day international cricket matches at Queen’s Park, St George’s.
The former minister was contacted Tuesday and asked what had gone wrong with the project.
Bhola explained that the loan was to be made to NLA by Canada Bank Note Company Limited, which manages the Authority’s local games.
The loan period had been for thirty years and according to Bhola, National Lottery was expected to service the debt from the proceeds of the license granted for gaming.
CBN Grenada has been seeking to gain control of the local slot machine gaming market.
The company has partnered with NLA to run its VLT (video lottery terminals) games, as local laws prohibit them from entering the market.
CBN Grenada Controls the Blast brand, which operates across the country, replacing small operators.
Meanwhile the larger gaming operators have stood their ground and are continuing to resist being absorbed into the Blast brand.
Government had established the Gaming Bureau to license and regulate games of chance.
According to the former Sports Minister, “there was some difficulty getting this (gaming industry), under control”.
It is still not clear exactly why the money was not made available for the purpose prescribed but there is speculation in some quarters that it may be linked to government’s failure to get all “games of chance” operators under the CBN Grenada banner.
In Dominica and St Lucia where CBN also has a heavy foot print, funding was also provided for large projects.
Both Lottery Authorities are now owned by CBN because they were unable to service the loans.
Sources close to the local Lottery Authority have said the lighting of the cricket stadium is still on the agenda though the cost of future maintenance is a concern.