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Ezra Stuart

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No special fees for Hammie-La!
Government backbencher Hamilton Lashley has rubbished suggestions in some quarters that he is being paid a fee of $5 000 to coordinate the controversial David Thompson Memorial Constituency Councils Football Classic.
“I’m not getting a yen. There is no extra dollars for Hammie La. I don’t understand this $5 000 or $8 000 talk,” Lashley told the WEEKEND NATION in an interview yesterday.
“This is part of my remit as consultant to the Government of Barbados on social policy matters and I’m already being paid for that. But there are no special fees for the Rasta Man from the Pine for this tournament.
“This is my community commitment. It’s a labour of love and I am happy that I have been assigned to play a role. It was always my wish to be a part of a joint national effort such as this project,” Lashley noted.
“I am not going to draw the Government’s money on false pretences. I have to work very hard for my money and even when I get it, I give it back out to fulfil other urgencies in other people’s lives in this difficult economic recession,” Lashley declared.
He said the tournament, which falls under the auspices of the Ministry of Social Care and Community Empowerment, is a social project with many dimensions to it.
“It is a sporting social programme, a social contract between the Ministry (of Social Care) and the young people across 30 constituencies,” he said.
There has been speculation that the coordinator’s fee of $5 000  which was budgeted for in the tournament’s proposal was to be paid to Lashley but he said that sum of money is for the technical coordinator, whom he declined to name.
However, investigations by WEEKENDSPORT reveal that the technical job is being done by former long-serving FIFA referee Mark “Bob” Forde.
“He is doing a tremendous job and has brought all his technical knowledge and expertise to bear in administering this tournament,” Lashley said.
Lashley, who has been the parliamentary representative for St Michael South East since 1994, winning the seat for both the Democratic Labour Party and the Barbados Labour Party, said it is the people in the communities who are really the direct beneficiaries.
“The groundsmen, vendors, commentators, referees, dee jays, the sound men, and of course, more than 560 players and in my view, this is a very small investment in this nation’s youth that has so far paid dividends,” he said.
“The economic turnover in communities where this tournament is played in Barbados is great,” he added.
Lashley said he wants the attention to be shifted from him as he is still “the poorest politician in the Caribbean”.
“For years, I have been doing this kind of thing. I’ve not now come to town. I have been involved in football for more than 30 years,” he added.
“I was president and a successful junior manager of the Regents Youth Group. I was an executive member of the Barbados Football Association’s youth committee and manager of the Pinelands team,” he further pointed out.
“I was the person who organized the National Senior Games and the National Summer Camp Games and had every stand in the Stadium full. I’ve always done voluntary work without payment,” he contended.