Senator Roberts: Review bill for T20 World Cup

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

UNC Senator Anil Roberts –

Opposition Senator Anil Roberts seriously doubted TT had got the best deal for itself in the trade-offs of hosting June’s T20 World Cup. He urged Government to do a cost-benefit analysis of the entire arrangement. If needs be, Government should renegotiate these deals, Roberts urged.

He spoke on Tuesday in the Senate on the debate on the ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup Bill 2024.

Saying the bill gives the ICC control over certain local sports facilities, Roberts complained that anyone in such areas must take directions from a profit-seeking organisation. “Citizens could be oppressed!”

Regarding the potential of sports tourism, he asked if anyone had consulted Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell, and whether he had done any cost-benefit analysis.

Roberts doubted whether most teams being hosted in TT would be popular among the competition’s expected two billion global viewers.

While they may watch the West Indies versus New Zealand match, Roberts said, “They won’t watch Papua New Guinea.”

He wondered why the $1.3 billion Brian Lara Stadium was now being refurbished. While the historic Queen’s Park Oval would be used in warm-up matches, he lamented it would not host proper matches and so financially benefit nearby businesses like restaurants.

Roberts said the Brian Lara Stadium has no nearby commercial establishments.

Saying Government’s hefty spend on the Commonwealth junior games in TT had not invested in actual young athletes, he accused them of lacking a sports master plan.

Again lamenting the teams allocated to play in TT, he said top teams like England, India and Pakistan would play elsewhere. The final was due in Barbados, he noted, which had spent heavily on advertising the competition. In contrast, Roberts said, “I ain’t see a TT yet. I ain’t see an ad, a pan, a moko jumbie.”

Roberts scoffed at the regional visa-waiver, saying “150,000 Venezuelans coming across the Gulf of Paria don’t need a visa.”

He said Government was claiming to love cricket, yet no primary school cricket competition was held last year. He urged the Government to do a cost-benefit analysis of hosting the T20 competition, being facilitated by sweeping changes in the law brought by this bill in many critical areas.

Recalling Government’s challenges in getting Parliament to extend the time for the Auditor General to examine the Public Accounts of TT, he accused Government of being tardy and lethargic, and said it was guessing its way through government.

Saying the current bill was just dumped on senators, he accused the Government of a last-minute rush and negligence.

In both his piloting of the bill and winding-up of the subsequent debate, AG Armour apologised to senators for bringing the bill to the Senate so late. The bill was later passed by simple majority vote with the Government getting full support from the Independent senators while the six Opposition senators abstained, during a division of the votes.