Jamaica must do better at helping itself

Friday, April 04, 2014    

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This newspaper, probably more than any other entity, has repeatedly pointed to absence of foresight by Jamaica's leaders in not ensuring that Sabina Park was outfitted with lights at the time the historic cricket ground was refurbished for the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup.

We recall that at the time the People's National Party (PNP) Government of the day had faced fierce criticism for its more than US$100 million expenditure on the World Cup. No doubt that criticism influenced the then Government to postpone the lighting project, which they knew would have to be implemented at some stage.

Having tongue-lashed the PNP Government for alleged waste of taxpayers' money on the cricket World Cup, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Administration which took power in 2007 showed little interest in the Sabina lighting project. The global economic collapse of 2008/9 and the devastating consequences for the Jamaican economy pushed the project even further on the back burner.

All of that led to Jamaica suffering the embarrassment of being the only country in the Caribbean not to have hosted night games during the inaugural CPL twenty/20 competition in 2013.

Our hope that the situation would have been corrected soared when, before the CPL tournament last year, the Jamaica Cricket Association announced that Sabina Park Holdings, which manages the venue, had secured a partnership with a financier and contractor for the project.

However, our hopes were dashed when the deal fell through three weeks later.

Now we see that the Indian Government is providing a grant of US$2.1 million towards the installation of lights at Sabina Park.

According to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, India's gift will be complemented by a further US$600,000 to cover the estimated US$2.7 million cost of the project.

We express our gratitude to the Indian Government for its generosity, which that country's High Commissioner Mr Shri Pratap Singh said represents a further strengthening of the "economic and commercial co-operation between the two countries for mutual benefit".

But even as we say a big thank you to India, we cannot overlook the fact that the Jamaican Government had to accept assistance to realise the completion of this project.

Instead of signing the memorandum of understanding on Tuesday with broad smiles, Jamaica's leaders should have felt a sense of shame that Jamaica failed to fund this project on its own.

After 52 years of Independence, Jamaica should be doing more for itself rather than relying heavily on the international community for assistance.

We get the sense that successive administrations relish receiving aid, rather than working hard at putting Jamaica in a position of self-sustenance.

It is an indictment of the way successive governments have managed our economy — a deficiency that is further evident in the fact that the country is again being instructed on how to run its fiscal affairs by the International Monetary Fund.

Let us hope that the authorities will do a better job of managing Sabina Park now that the Indian Government has generously provided a facility which the country should have secured on its own.





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