LAST?NIGHT, on the eve of the presentation of this year’s Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals by The Honourable Chris Sinckler, I dreamt that I was a politician and was Minister of Finance.
So just imagine that it was me and not Sinckler in Parliament yesterday with my black box delivering the Budget. Of course, my proposals would focus primarily on sports and would be as follows:
Mr Speaker, every effort will be made to improve the sporting infrastructure and landscape by granting concessions on sporting goods.
We will ensure a national sports policy is finally implemented as well as a strategic plan for the development of all sports.
Effective today, all duties and valued added tax (VAT) will be waived on sports equipment and transportation. This will be extended to the importation of horses for sports like polo, horse racing and equestrian while corporate Barbados will be offered tax deductions for their sponsorship of sports and investment in teams.
With the London Olympics less than two months away, funding for elite athletes to facilitate increased participation in meets so that Barbados can be represented by more athletes than officials at such prestigious events.
Starting immediately at the conclusion of all Crop Over activities, a complete transformation and refurbishment of the National Stadium will be undertaken and on completion, this ultra-modern facility will be renamed the Obadele Thompson Stadium.
The refurbishment will see the erection of at least ten hospitality boxes, including a private air-conditioned VIP box for dignitaries and a media centre, equipped with telephone lines for easy access to the Internet.
Cycling will benefit from a new 500-metre track while there will be additional dressing rooms.
The historic Kensington Oval will no longer be seen as a white elephant for funerals, fetes and cultural events. Instead of hosting a solitary Test, One-Day International and Twenty20 each year and a few regional matches. It will again be used for local matches by the Barbados Cricket Association, instead of having to resort to substandard club grounds.
There will also be a sprawling car park at the Netball Stadium, utilizing the grassy areas there, which becomes muddy whenever it rains. That facility will also be renamed after the outstanding former Barbados netballer and coach Marvo Sealy.
Additionally, a paved car park will also be laid out on the land in front of the entrance to the Stadium.
A state-of-the-art gym for boxing and bodybuilding will also be constructed at the National Stadium while the existing Gymnasium of the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex will also be renovated both inside and outside. This facility will become the exclusive home for all indoor sports and champion volleyball teams like Deacons will be able to play their local matches and not worry about the Gym being unavailable because of CXC?and CAPE examinations.
Playing fields throughout Barbados will be upgraded.
The Cabinet will also approve spending for the installation of floodlights at the Mapp Hill Field in Dash Valley and along with Bridgefield Field in St Thomas, there will be the installation of irrigation systems as two venues, as well as Checker Hall , North Stars in St Lucy and Windward in St Philip, are ideal locations for mini stadiums.
The dressing rooms, as well as the pavilion at Friendship and, of course, Briar Hall, is inadequate to accommodate spectators, players and officials.
While the Louis Lynch School, named after one of Barbados’ leading educators, unfortunately had to be closed a few years ago and the reasons for such closure are still inconclusive, this facility can now be used for sports.
The classrooms will therefore be converted into dormitories, providing affordable accommodation for visiting sports teams. A roof will be erected over the existing basketball courts with the necessary changes to accommodate spectators. This would offer the Barbados Amateur Basketball Association another option, unless a concerted effort is made to refurbish the antiquated YMCA?courts.
Since the Bushy Park Race Circuit is no longer exclusively used for car racing but is the venue for the Sweet Soca and Party Monarch calypso competitions, Government intends to work closely with the owners to erect a modern grandstand to seat at least 5 000.
Hockey players will no longer feel left out. The old, worn-out AstroTurf in Wildey will be replaced with a new artificial field. A pavilion will be erected with seating for at least 500 spectators.
The new facility as well as the new Barbados Football Association (BFA) ground next door will benefit from waivers on the cost for irrigation supplied by the Barbados Water Authority.
Government will hereafter foot the bill for all representative overseas travel for World Go-As-You-Please draughts champion Ronald “Suki” King.
All sportspeople employed in the Public Service will be given paid leave while on national duty and legislation will mandate the same for the private sector.
Athletes who excel in their respective sports will also be entitled to scholarships equivalent to scholarships offered for academic performance.
Sporting organizations will receive an annual grant, not exceeding $10 000 dollars, to assist in the administration of their respective sports, with additional assistance for hosting or participating in regional or international competitions.
All National Sports Council coaches will be properly certified, and it is the intention to reimburse the $2.5 million which was cut from their sports budget in the last financial year.
I am obliged to you, Mr Speaker.