Cricket bill must regularise all clubs, sub-associations

- Ramjattan

The Alliance for Change (AFC) wants government to go further than it is proposing to do in the recently-tabled Guyana Cricket Administra-tion Bill by making legal entities of all clubs and sub-associations and putting in place a regime to ensure voting rights.

Unless the bill deals with making the clubs at the bottom of the pyramid legal entities, the AFC would not be supporting it, party leader Khemraj Ramjattan told Stabroek News on the proposed legislation, which was tabled last Thursday.

“We want to have the entire framework of cricket incorporated in the legislation,” said Ramjattan, making the point that that it makes no sense for the top of the pyramid to be incorporated and the sub associations and clubs remaining non-legal entities. “If the [national and county] associations are non-entities and you want to regularise them, then what happen to the clubs?” Ramjattan asked. “It is a fundamental flaw of the legislation to talk about the GCC and the county boards and not talk about the clubs,” he said.

Khemraj Ramjattan

“It is about which clubs will have voting rights,” he said, reminding that two factions in Demerara were warring as to who had voting rights.

“I have been warning of this since I was the President of the Gandhi Cricket Club,” he said. “Solving the problem at the top won’t work,” he said.

Ramjattan said that there should be a standard criterion which guides how clubs could become members of sub associations and also governing voting rights.

Speaking at the post-Cabinet press briefing held at the Office of the President last Friday, presidential advisor Gail Teixeira said that Minister of Sport Dr Frank Anthony met last Tuesday with Dr Rupert Roopnaraine of APNU and David Patterson of the AFC and members of the Interim Management Committee of cricket to look at the bill. She said that as a result of these discussions, the Bill was amended before it was tabled in the National Assembly. “A number of clauses that they felt were problematic were removed. Only one clause was not removed and this had to do with the minister [being able] to convene a date for the elections of the board,” said Teixeira.
She said that at the meeting the APNU representative suggested that the bill goes to a Special Select Committee and that it should be done quickly since the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) must have elections by the end of January.

She noted that the government thought this request was a reasonable one and this was brought to Cabinet, which approved it and brought the bill to the House with that understanding. She added that the opposition has the majority on the Special Select Committee that will examine the bill.

APNU MP and Shadow Finance Minister Carl Greenidge had told this newspaper that if the government does not change the way it behaves in the game’s administration locally, the bill may “have a hard time” when it comes up for debate and passage in the National Assembly.

Greenidge explained that the main opposition will only support the bill if the government takes cognisance of the realities of cricket administration on the ground, while noting that the events unfolding within the GCB ranged from impropriety to criminal acts and the government has failed to sufficiently act on resolving the matter.

The bill seeks to establish county boards as corporate bodies and provide a constitution for the embattled GCB. The government is hoping that unanimous passage of the bill will end the stalemate with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), which has already seen international matches being pulled from Guyana.

The WICB, having seen the details of the proposed constitution, has already told the government that it has major disagreements with some of the provisions, in particular the planned dissolution of the GCB.

Acting Chief Justice Ian Chang had thrown out a challenge to the validity of the GCB elections on the grounds that all of the associations embroiled in the matter were legal non-entities and had been so from their inception. Therefore, they could not sue or be sued.

This newspaper understands that the absence of a corporate structure for the county boards had been exposed when a representative of the Berbice Cricket Board last year challenged the validity of the GCB elections.

The proposed constitution is contained in the schedule of the bill and Part 111 5(4) of the bill and it says that the “rules, regulations, bylaws and constitutions of the former Guyana Cricket Board are replaced by the Constitution of the Guyana Cricket Board” and further that “each and every office established under the rules, regulations, bylaws and constitutions of the former Guyana Cricket Board shall cease to exist at the commencement of this Act.” This provision is at the crux of the cricket impasse as the WICB says it will not recognise any dissolution of the GCB.

Clause 9(1) of the bill mandates that the GCB and county boards shall maintain proper accounts and that these have to be submitted to the Auditor General not later than three months after the end of the financial year. The report of the Auditor General then has to be laid before the National Assembly.

Under Clause 10, the GCB and county boards have to present to the National Sports Commission an annual report on their work and activities no later than March 31st of each year.

Since last December, the government has moved to delegitimize the GCB. It set up an interim cricket management committee headed by former West Indies Captain Clive Lloyd. This was followed by lockouts of GCB officials from the board’s property and police searches of the house of some of the members. It also saw resignations from the GCB and legal action by some members of the GCB against the government. However, throughout all of this, the WICB has remained steadfast to its position that it only recognises the GCB and not the government-appointed interim body.

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