KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica’s Oppostion Leader Bruce Golding Tuesday described the Government’s decision to host Cricket World Cup 2007 as a colossal error, after the Government admitted it would gain no financial benefit from hosting the event.
The Opposition Leader was responding to the disclosure by Dr. Omar Davies, Minister of Finance and Planning, that the Government has projected that it will earn only US$9 million (J$585 million) from ticket sales after spending US$100 million (J$6.5 billion) to host the event.
“I am not trying to make an issue out of it, I just have a difficulty (with it), with a balanced budget target that has now split significantly, with a debt that has increased far beyond what was projected for this year, with pressing social demands,” he said.
Mr. Golding argued that, instead of spending the money in such a manner, he would have used the more than $5 billion to address the early childhood component of the Transformation Project and ensure that the country got the best early childhood system in the Caribbean.
“I am just wondering about Government’s priorities, given the scarcity of its resources, I just wonder about that and I just wonder whether we have not made one colossal error in terms of the long-term future of this country!” the Opposition Leader said.
Dr. Davies, however, argued that countries hosting such international events rarely earn a profit.
“I want to point out that, apart from Atlanta and Los Angeles, there is no country that has made any profits from the hosting of the Olympics,” the Finance Minister stressed.
He said the country would however earn international publicity and national assets from the upgrading of its cricket facilities.
“Once you have established facilities at that level, for example the National Stadium, and to maintain it, then you are in a position in the future to maintain it as long as you don’t allow it to run down,” he said. “You have a national asset, which you then need to maintain.”