‘Press Government for answers’

Don’t be distracted by the glitz and glamour of Kensington Oval, said Opposition Senator Ryan Walters, as he urged the public to press the Government for answers on what they spent to renovate the Oval.

“Do not be intimidated by all the fancy pictures you are seeing at Kensington Oval. Do not withdraw from the questioning of the spending of this government when it comes to the taxpayers’ money,” Walters said.

He made those comments last Sunday during a Democratic Labour Party (DLP) St Michael South branch meeting at The St Michael School, Martindales Road, St Michael.

In his address to party faithful, Walters accused the Government of not speaking with one voice about what the $50 million loan from the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) was spent on.

Walters said Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Minister of Sport Charles Griffith and chairman of the National Organising Committee for the International Cricket Council Men’s T20 World Cup, Noel Lynch, gave different accounts in recent months.

“If you wanted to spruce up your home, would you get some estimates, go to the financial institution, borrow some money or would you pull a figure out of the hat, go and get the money and then look for people to do the work?

“They are going out there, taking up huge sums of money, borrowing it, then trying to work out how they are going to spend this money.”

The $50 million borrowed for Kensington Oval was questionable, he said.

“The Prime Minister is on record, and she is saying in the media, the US$25 million loan would have a highly competitive, seven per cent interest rate and a seven-year repayment period and it will be allocated for the urgent refurbishment of the iconic cricket stadium.

“A couple weeks after that, chair of the National Organising Committee is on the record in the media saying half of the $50 million goes to the refurbishment of Kensington Oval while the other half will go to rebuilding that solid platform for the redevelopment of our cricket.

“Then the Minister of Sport is saying the $50 million secured from the African Export-Import Bank was being spent appropriately. The loan will also fund improvements to facilities at 3Ws Oval, Windward Cricket Club and Police Cricket Club where practice matches are to take place.

“This Government does not even know how they intended to spend $50 million,” Walters said.

On Saturday, the media was taken on a tour of the Oval where the new Grand Stand and three-store hospitality facility were revealed. During that tour, it was said the two additions to the Oval were part of the major upgrade which cost $37 million.

While referencing the tour and videos on social media of renovated bathroom facilities and players quarters, Walters had further questions.

“Before April 2024, there was an Oval, pitch, grounds . . . all of those things still remain today. There has not been one permanent structure that has been constructed with that money.

“. . . The big works have been completed; let us go to the Oval, but what they also said is the works at the Oval have now cost taxpayers $40 million. It has gone over a lot of heads because of the glitz and the glamour. The cost is questionable,” he added.

Former president Verla De Peiza, who was among the speakers at the meeting, asked Barbadians whether their quality of life had improved since the 2018 General Election.

She also expressed concern that although controversial taxes such as the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) and road tax were removed, the high cost of living persists.

“We were promised a whole lot in a covenant of hope. The NSRL was going to be rolled back but they didn’t tell you what they were going to replace it with.

“Road tax was going to be rolled back but they didn’t tell how you would be constantly under the thumb of a changing fuel tax.

“We could blame wars and rumours of wars for the cost of living. Those things do have an impact, but do you know what has the greatest impact? The policies that governments put in place,” De Peiza said.

She also said despite complaints about the DLP’s protected basket of goods, food prices were still increasing.

“When the DLP had a basket of goods that could fit in the small print in the middle of your newspaper and you could shop just from the basket of goods, it was poo-pooed.

“Now the food bill in Barbados is so high that I don’t understand how you could overlay a National Nutrition Policy when people cannot afford healthy food,” she said.

The post ‘Press Government for answers’ appeared first on nationnews.com.

Leave a Reply