Major changes have been made to the Guyana Cricket Administration Bill 2012 including the removal of contentious provisions objected to by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) dealing with the dissolution of the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB).
The bill was returned to the National Assembly on Wednesday but the second reading was deferred until the parliamentary recess ends in October. The bill seeks to establish the GCB and county boards as corporate bodies and was tabled by government in December 2012 in a bid to end the impasse over the national game here. It provides constitutions for the GCB, the Demerara Cricket Board, the Berbice Cricket Board and the Essequibo Cricket Board.
The bill was tabled following an acrimonious row between government and the WICB over control of cricket in Guyana which had seen international matches being pulled from Guyana. The WICB has vehemently opposed the government’s move to supplant the GCB with an interim body led by renowned West Indies captain Clive Lloyd.
Subsequent to the tabling of the bill, the WICB had also told government that it has major disagreements with some of its provision, in particular the planned dissolution of the GCB. Opposition politicians had also signalled that they have concerns over the powers accorded to the Sport Minister in the bill.
The bill was sent to a Special Select Committee after it was laid in the National Assembly and the report of the committee was presented to the House on Wednesday by Minister of Sport Dr. Frank Anthony.
Several amendments have been made to the bill including changes to provisions that the WICB had objected to. In the initial bill, one of the provisions stated 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 was at the crux of the cricket impasse as the WICB had said it will not recognise any dissolution of the GCB.
In the amended bill, the term “former Guyana Cricket Board” means the entity, institution, association, society, company, body or collection of persons known as or functioning as the Guyana Cricket Board immediately before the commencement of the Act.
In relation to elections to the executive committee, Part 11, Clause 7 of the bill says that the first elections shall be held in accordance with section 17 on the date appointed in writing by the Minister acting in consultation with the WICB. In respect of this election, the minister, after meaningful consultations with the WICB shall be responsible for the appointment of a Cricket Ombudsman, who shall be responsible for the verification of the Register of Clubs and for performing the functions of Returning Officer.
Following the first election, the bill makes it clear that the minister has no part to play in respect of the holding of subsequent elections of the GCB and the election and appointment of the ombudsman. The ombudsman, the bill says, shall hold office for a period of three years after he/she has been elected by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting at an extraordinary meeting of the GCB. The primary task of the cricket ombudsman shall be the responsibility for the verification of the Register of Clubs and for performing the functions of Returning Officer for the elections of the membership of the GCB.
Part 11, Clause 5 of the bill deals with the transfer of rights to the GCB. When the bill is signed into law, all employees of the former GCB are deemed to be employed by the GCB. All assets, funds and resources and movable and immovable property held by the former Board now stand transferred to the GCB. In addition, the rights, interests, obligations and liabilities of the former GCB existing on or before the commencement of the Act, now stand transferred to the GCB. Contracts or instruments shall be of the same force and effect against or in favour of the GCB and shall be enforceable as fully and effectively, as if instead of the former GCB, the GCB has been named or had been a party to. In similar vein, proceedings or actions taken by or against the former GCB shall be continued by or against the GCB. Similar provisions are made for county boards.
The bill makes provision for the books of the GCB and county boards to be audited and the report shall be laid before the National Assembly within a month of the completion of the audit. The bodies, not later than May 31 every year, shall present to the National Sports Commission copies of the auditor’s report and the annual report on its work and activities for the period of 12 months preceding the date of the report, and the plan of action and activities of the Board for the ensuing 12 months.
Meantime, the Constitution of the GCB sets out term limits for the president who shall serve for a period not exceeding three terms. A term is two years. There are no term limits for other executive committee members.
The current president of the GCB is Drubahadur who was elected in January but once passed and signed into law; new elections could be held.
The resubmission of the bill caps months of wrangling between government and the WICB. The saga began when Angela Haniff, Secretary of the Berbice Cricket Board filed an action challenging the election of Ramsay Ali as President of the GCB at the Annual General Meeting of June 10, 2011. Those were controversial elections in a deeply divided cricketing fraternity. Acting Chief Justice Ian Chang had thrown out a challenge 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.
In his ruling, the Chief Justice also said that while a legislative structure for the administration of cricket was desirable “there may be the immediate need for the Minister responsible for sports to impose his executive will in the national interest until such time as parliament can provide a more permanent welfare structure. The Minister can take immediate interim action.”
Subsequently, Anthony on December 23rd, 2011 made moves to install an Interim Management Committee (IMC) to run the affairs of cricket in Guyana. This led to two GCB trustees: Lionel Jaikarran and Chetram Singh filing an ex parte motion on December 28, 2011 for an order quashing the Minister’s decision to set up the IMC. On December 29, 2011, Chang ordered that the application be refused. The case eventually reached the Caribbean Court of Justice and Robin Singh and Rajendra Singh were substituted for Chetram Singh and Lionel Jaikarran.
Outside of the courtrooms, the WICB refused to recognize the IMC headed by Lloyd and pulled all international matches from Guyana. This was followed by lockouts of GCB officials from the board’s property by the authorities here and police searches of the houses of some of the members. Government had also sought and obtained an order of the Court preventing any official of the GCB from acting as an agent of the GCB. Consequently, all officials of the GCB resigned to avoid any contempt of Court proceedings. The Secretary General of CARICOM was even involved in mediating talks between the government and the WICB to resolve the impasse.
However, earlier this year, the old GCB executive regained the ascendancy with elections held in January in defiance of the government. The Board also took a series of steps which the government had originally intended that court action would prevent. GCB executives have said there is no legal prohibition to the board’s functioning.
Lloyd had dubbed the elections illegal but since then there has been little word from the interim management body and the government has not mounted a new challenge to the GCB’s functioning. International cricket matches have also returned to Guyana.