JIS News

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, said last night that the outstanding cost to the country of co-hosting Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007 has risen by an additional $1.4 billion, being claimed by Israeli-owned construction firm, Ashtrom Building Systems, for refurbishing Sabina Park.
“That is what I discovered this week,” Mr. Shaw told a large crowd attending the 87th anniversary Awards Dinner and Ball of the Jamaica District Grand Lodge Number 2( Independent United Order of Mechanics/Friendly Societies) at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston.
The Minister said that the matter is being arbitrated, but that Ashtrom has already won the first round of the arbitration.
“And since we have to be engaged in zero based budgeting, we have to assume the possibility that they could win the entire arbitration process,” he stated.
“If they do, not only do we have to pay US$7.5 million for the remainder of that contract, it will attract an interest cost of two percent per month, from May of 2007.When you finish totting that up in Jamaican Dollars, the total cost of the legacy of Sabina Park will be an additional $1.4 billion that we are going to have to find to pay that bill,” he revealed.
Mr. Shaw said that the Government had been advised that the cost of refurbishing Sabina Park for the event in 2007 by Ashtrom was US$17 million (approximately) J$1.5 billion, but that Ashtrom has since made additional claims almost doubling the total cost to US$32 million ( about $2.9 billion). Of this amount, US$24.5 million (or about J$2.2 billion has been paid), leaving a balance of US$7.5 million (about J$700 million).
However, the Minister said that a monthly interest of some two percent per month has since doubled the figure to about J$1.4 billion or some US$7.5 million more.
Mr. Shaw said that the unexpected expenses while revenue is falling, was a major challenge for the Government.
He accused Opposition spokespersons of seeking to enjoy the luxury of being Opposition at this time, without acknowledging that they had left the current Government with “a legacy for us to deal with all of these issues, none of which has to do with the decisions of this Government.”
The Minister said that the debt overhang which the Government had inherited from the previous administration, plus the current global economic implosion, had combined to place the Jamaican economy in its current predicament.
However, he said that he would not approach the matter with any “rancour”, as he considered that “what is past is past” and was urging Jamaicans to move on.
“We have to do what we have to do,” Mr. Shaw said.
He added that the current crisis has given the country another chance to right the wrongs of the economy, enhance the process of governance and unleash the potential of the country and the people.
“This opportunity, if wasted, can prolong the pain of adjustment at best’; at worst, the consequences may be too dire to even contemplate,” he concluded.

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