Passed Cricket Bill Criticized
Last Thursday the Government of Guyana with support for the main opposition party APNU, successfully passed a piece of legislation called the “Cricket Administration Bill.”
The Bill was opposed by the Alliance for Change (AFC), with Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan arguing against its passage.
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Dr. Frank Anthony in presenting the Bill informed the House that the enactment of this bill is likely to solve many issues surrounding the national game. He also stated that similar pieces of legislation were enacted in Barbados and Trinidad.
It appeared as though not many in the cricketing and legal fraternity agree with Minister Anthony and the Attorney General Anil Nandlall that the Guyana “Cricket Administration Bill,” is in any way, similar or can be compared to the pieces of legislation that incorporated the Barbados Cricket Association and the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board.
Kaieteur Sport has seen those pieces of two- page legislation and they merely, by an act of parliament, incorporate the entities that existed. Those entities retained its autonomy with its own rules and constitutions to govern, which can be changed by its membership and provides for continuity.
One the other hand, the Guyana Cricket Administration seeks to disband and dissolve the existing GCB and replace it with a new entity. The Bill also seizes all the assets of the GCB and vested them in the new entity. This, according to the legal minds constitutes seizure without compensation, possibly generating yet another cause to go to court.
Many would recall that the Minister of Sports and the Attorney General had filed court proceedings claiming the assets of the GCB under a principle of “Bona Vacantia” or ownerless property, the CCJ subsequently ruled that an unincorporated entity can own property. Many would have assumed that this should have brought an end to the matter and the government would have accepted that its reliance on Chief Justice Ian Chang “Orbiter Dicta” comments and ruling in the Angela Hanif matter would have been finally settled.
The action by the Attorney General and Minister of Sports also apparently reached a roadblock after they discovered that the GCB had established a commercial arm called DEB Essential Inc into which all of its assets were vested. It is now known that WICB, under their new structure to establish Territorial Boards as Franchises, has instructed all its Members to do like Guyana and establish commercial entities. The GCB Administrators may have been ahead of the game.
The result of the Cricket Administration Bill been enacted would be that all the relief sought by the Government, through the Courts, have been realized by the passage of this Bill.
Also, the court battles would be far from over as the GCB had sought to block the Bill by filing a 300 page court action against the Attorney General Anil Nandlall, Minister of Sports Frank Anthony and Speaker of the National Assembly Hon Raphael Trotman. Many legal minds thought that the action was premature.
In perusing the Bill, Kaieteur Sport observed some simple but significant inaccuracies in the Bill. For example, the GCB constitution appended to the Bill is not the one being used by the GCB and its membership, currently or previously, but one produced by the Government’s IMC and is riddled with inaccuracies. The body of the Bill stipulates that a quorum for a general meeting required 14 delegates yet the appended constitution states that a quorum must be a total of 15 delegates from two counties.
The Bill also states that the ombudsman shall be the returning officer for all elections, yet the appended constitution states a process for appointment of a Returning officer at the October OGM annually.
Significant also, is that the Bill makes ‘Upper Demerara’ (Linden) a full member of the DCB and a new DCB constitution, not approved by its membership, is appended to the bill.
However, on Page 11 Article 11 (a), the bill states “every office established under the constitution, rules, regulations and by laws of a former County Board shall continue to exist on and after the commencement of this Act, subject to the right of a county board to make amendments thereto as may be necessary”.
Demerara may very well find themselves interpreting two constitutions and Articles within the Body of the bill to find answers. Pure chaos!!
The most glaring of all the discrepancies is, while all of the newly formed county boards can amend their constitutions from time to time, the new GCB cannot!! What will happen when the WICB mandates changes or structural changes are required by the WICB, as is currently ongoing?
It is important to note that while the bill speaks of Accountability from the GCB and all the County Boards, at no point does the bill state what would be the Government financial contribution, if any, to cricket and cricket development which is always a burning issue. In fact, it appears as though the GCB would have to account to parliament on how it spends funding received from the WICB.
Mr. Anand Kalladeen told Kaieteur Sport that the GCB Audited financial statements have been done every year for the past Twenty (20) years and is up to date as of year ending 30th October 2013. Kalladeen boasted that “The Minister of Sports Frank Anthony and Attorney General Anil Nandlall armed with court orders, Police and a truck collected all of the GCB financial records and kept it for over a year but found no irregularity.
The documents were quietly returned late last year, yet Mr. Nandlall continues to make allegations”.
In an invited Comment Secretary of the GCB Anand Sanasie, stated, “I am happy that the two major parties in Parliament have finally agreed to something. Now that the Bill has passed I hope our legislators, especially those on the select committee that reviewed this Bill can get some time to actually read it and not take the word of our Attorney General, we all know that he has vested interests.”
Sanasie further stated that the GCB should comply with the Laws of the Land, regardless of how faulty it may be. When questioned about WICB reaction and possible sanctions, he said “The WICB will have to speak for itself, from my understanding that will be done when the Bill becomes law”.
President of the WICB, Mr. Dave Cameron, had previously stated in a letter to Guyana’s Parliament that “While we note that progress has been made in attempting to curtail Government’s involvement in the administration of the game, we must point out that this lingering issue is critical and dissolution of the GCB and its membership cannot be supported by the WICB”.
On the matter of dissolution Cameron went on to state,”The WICB notes with appreciation that the drafters have refrained from classifying the matter as dissolution, but the WICB takes the view that it is tantamount to one as the new dispensation has not, to the WICB’s knowledge, been approved by the shareholders and Members of the existing GCB. This matter, coupled with the pending legal matters leave us with little option but to reserve our position specifically in respect of the shares in the WICB which were issued to the existing GCB”.
As leader of the Alliance for Change argued in Parliament, this may be a problem for cricket now but what next? Basketball! Football!
From all indications, this is yet another saga in cricket, parliament and the court.