Kensington Oval – the home of cricket in Barbados is a proverbial albatross around the necks of Government, and Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler says the days of that being the case are numbered.
“I called in the board a couple weeks ago and we have been speaking internally about it in the Division of Investment in the Ministry of Finance; we have to find a way to deal with that situation down there.
“I met with the president of the West Indies Cricket Board and a couple of his colleagues from the executive. We’ve had very good discussions and we are working with the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA).
“It is an iconic site and known internationally, globally. It is a place that has produced a lot of great cricketers for the West Indies and it has been the site of a number of great matches over the years. So there is a value to the country maintaining it . . . . But a better and different arrangement has to be put in place,” he told a Democratic Labour Party St James North Branch meeting at the St Alban’s Primary School last night.
“Kensington cost about $150-somebody millions to pay with no plan for servicing it. We have to service that . . . not only pay for it, in relation to the actual physical structure, but we also have to pay the [Barbados Cricket Association] BCA, a lease payment of at least $1 million a year in order to occupy that space down there.
“Do all the maintenance ourselves, pay all the staff down there to see after it, pay the insurance, pay all the upkeep for it, including all the electricity bills and all that for the lights that are down there,” the minster revealed.
Sinckler further disclosed, that based on analysis he had seen, if the current arrangement were to run on for the course of the lease for the next 60 to 70 plus years, it could cost Government close to $800 million.
“I’m not complaining to anybody that when [the previous administration] left it, it was not in a completed state. Not in terms of the completed structure, but in terms of the financial arrangements for it. I’m not complaining about that fact that it sat on BTI’s [the Barbados Tourism Investment Incorporated] books for a number of years and [is] probably still on [the] BTI’s books, as a project . . . . And actually caused the BTI for many years not to be able to get its financial accounts approved by its accountants, by its auditors because it was there sitting as a liability, really.” he stated.
Sinckler said in the coming months, there would be some substantial reform that would take place at Kensington, which would put that on a different footing under a different type of management as part of the restructuring of Government, particularly the 19 institutions which he had outlined in the 2013 Financial Statement And Budgetary Proposals laid in the House of Assembly
“We are going to be seeing after that very shortly. I will be speaking with Minister Stephen Lashley and I don’t want to prejudge what will happen when that paper is presented to Cabinet in a couple days or whenever it comes; next Thursday or whenever. [But] I want to say [that] substantial changes are going to be made.
“We are going to work with our colleagues on the BCA because it is in both of our interests to ensure that the Mecca of Cricket in the Caribbean is properly protected and seen after on both ends of the spectrum – from the Government’s end and from the cricketing end and the BCA. This is a royal mess that has to be cleaned up and we are going work to do that,” Sinckler added.