Government not lagging!

Government has not been dragging its feet on the construction of the National Stadium, says Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment Charles Griffith.

He told the House of Assembly yesterday that contrary to what is being suggested in some quarters, Government is yet to receive the $40 million Chinese loan and therefore not required to account for its expenditure.

Speaking from the Well of Parliament as debate on the Appropriation Bill, 2024 continued, the minister made it clear that the importance of the Stadium to the development of sports in Barbados was not lost on the ruling administration. He also pointed out that the issues there did not manifest overnight and, therefore, it was unreasonable to expect an overnight solution.

Fully aware

“The National Stadium is something that all of us want to happen on island because we are fully aware of the impact of this facility as it relates to sports. We are working every week with the Chinese to ensure that we can have the National Stadium up and running again. People would want you to believe that the National Stadium has only been in its current position for the last five years. Ten

years prior to that, the Stadium was in a similar situation,” the St John Member of Parliament said.

“When I hear people talking about $40 million that this Government should account for, I want it made abundantly clear that the $40 million still resides in China. No $40 million was ever paid to any treasury here in Barbados to construct or reconstruct the National Stadium.”

In October 2022, Minister Griffith and Chinese Ambassador to Barbados, Yan Xiusheng, signed a memorandum of understanding for the Stadium to be built under grant funding.

The Stadium, which was opened in 1970, deteriorated over the years and was condemned by football’s world governing body, FIFA, 16 years ago as unsuitable to host international matches, forcing Government to undertake refurbishment work.

The existing track was laid nearly ten years ago and has become extremely hazardous for athletes, with wide cracks in worn lanes.

Griffith said much of the delay was centred around the rejigging of plans for the Waterford, St Michael facility, as it was a case of measuring twice and cutting once. He assured the country that once pricing for Phase 2 of the project is done by the Chinese developers, work would begin in earnest.

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