The management of the National Stadium is preparing to take legal action against opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Odinga Lumumba and promoters Hits and Jams Entertainment over outstanding debts.
This is according to Stadium Manager Anthony Xavier.
In September of this year, the Ministry of Education’s Department of Culture, Youth and Sport had asked that Lumumba, Hits and Jams entertainment and the Kashif and Shanghai organisation make contact in order to settle accounts.
Two months later, only Kashif and Shanghai has done so.
Last week, Xavier told Stabroek News that Kashif and Shanghai contacted the department to work out a payment plan and had made a payment of $100,000 towards the clearing of its debt.
He noted, however, that the other two entities have not made contact with either the ministry or his office.
“Lumumba has refused to take our calls or enter into any discussion,” Xavier said.
“Hits and Jams continues to claim that they were granted concessions but we have nothing to that effect in writing,” he added.
Faced with the continued refusal of these bodies to cooperate, Xavier has decided to pursue legal action. On the advice of the Permanent Secretary of the Department, the stadium management is compiling all necessary documents in relation to these transactions so that a case can be prepared.
“We are following the full course of the law,” he stressed.
According to invoices seen by Stabroek News in September, Lumumba’s debt of $673,300 is for the use of the stadium for the hosting of three games in Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Champion-ships in April this year.
Hits and Jams Entertainment, according to records, has both the largest and oldest debt. The entity owes $1,348,800 for the use of the stadium for the hosting of events related to Jamzone 2012, which was held from August 18 to August 25, 2012. Kashif and Shanghai owes the stadium $1,005,000 for the hosting of the grand finale of the 25th Kashif and Shanghai Football championship on April 5, 2015.
“These are balances they owe,” Xavier explained. “They had already made an initial deposit to secure the date for the event. It is a legitimate debt and if they claim to be good corporate citizens, they should honour the debt,” he added.
Xavier continues to be incensed by claims made by Lumumba that there is a practice of attaching discriminatory charges to football games.
According to Xavier, instead of being charged significantly more than other entities, Lumumba was granted a concessionary rate of $50,000 for the stadium’s rental. This rate is $25,000 less than the rate that is normally charged. The bulk of his bill actually related to the use of the floodlights, the cost of which is $50,000 per hour.
“Him telling the press that he wasn’t in agreement with the rate he was charged made no sense,” Xavier said, “since he agreed to the charge.”
He further questioned why a parliamentarian would want to be exposed in the media as owing the state.
He is also concerned about the manner in which Hits and Jams has refused to respond to the ministry’s request for payment.
“They have no fear. Seems like they are untouchables. I am hoping that with this new dispensation that the word untouchables is taken out of their vocabulary,” he said.
He noted that while he is “partial to a payment plan,” none of the entities named will have access to the Guyana National Stadium until their debt is cleared.