World Cup Funds Could not be Directed Elsewhere – Finance Minister


Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. Omar Davies has dismissed claims that the $9 billion incurred as part of the country’s preparation for the hosting of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 could have been better directed at interventions in the social sector.
Dr. Davis, who closed the 2007/08 Budget Debate in the House yesterday (May 2), explained that a portion of the funds was in the form of in-kind donation and hence could not be used for any other purpose.
“The fact is, expenditure on the two stadiums was approximately US$67 million and roughly 50 per cent of that money came by way of a very concessional loan from the Chinese. This loan was not in the form of cash and hence would not have been available to renovate [for example] basic schools,” he pointed out.
According to the Minister, “the country should not be fooled that $9 billion had been spent to host the seven cricket matches.”
“A large percentage of the expenditure was on capital works, which will remain with us. and will benefit the society in the medium and long term,” he explained, adding that “we now have a set of sporting facilities consistent with our tradition and presence on the world stage.”
Acknowledging that there would be the usual challenge of maintaining the facilities, the Minister called on all stakeholders to “join in identifying ways in which these national assets can be maintained, consistent with Jamaica’s pride of place internationally as a centre of sporting excellence.”
Continuing, he noted that improvements to the health system, equipment and motor cars for the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), additional buses for the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), and improvements to the road infrastructure are included in the $9 billion.
In the meantime, the Minister expressed satisfaction with the country’s hosting of the matches for the World Cup. “I cannot think of one Jamaican who was not proud of the manner in which we conducted ourselves on show to the world during the period. The thousands who attended the opening ceremony and the matches came from all strata of society. It was a refreshing reminder of what we are capable of doing when we are united,” the Minister said.

JIS Social