I confess to an inability to discern whether Mr. Neil Kumar’s response (S/N April 21, All expenditure under the Sports and Art Development Fund can be accounted for) to Business Page (BP) of April 17 is a measure of an innate tendency to mislead and obfuscate, a misunderstanding or misrepresentation of what was written coupled with a failure to distinguish between the President of the Guyana (Lawn) Tennis Association and Christopher Ram the incumbent. Even as he confesses – in relation to Business Page – to an appreciation of writing that impresses and persuades, he misinterprets my disclosure of interest as one of bias.
I therefore ask Mr. Kumar to read the column again and provide the taxpaying public with a more informed response to the specific issues raised therein. Until then, there are certain issues in his response that warrant some comment.
1. That the Director of Sports – an office created under the National Sports Commission Act, 1993 – should sign a letter trying to defend the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport for its vindictiveness, discrimination among sporting bodies and lack of transparency and accountability, confirms the incestuous relationship between the Ministry and the Commission, an independent statutory body in receipt of a subvention.
2. Mr. Kumar says incorrectly that I demanded a percentage of the Ministry’s Sports Budget to be assigned to tennis. What the GLTA did was make a request for a contribution to help finance a national team of six under-14 tennis players to participate for the first time in a world lawn tennis event. It was in response to Dr. Anthony’s categorical refusal to our request that we pointed out to the Minister that what the GLTA was asking for was the equivalent to 0.2% of the 2010 sports budget, or 20 “cents” of every one hundred dollars. Since Mr. Kumar was not at the meeting I can excuse him if Dr. Anthony misrepresented our request, which leaves the minister in a rather invidious position. Determined not to go begging the Minister again this year we undertook some audacious fundraising efforts which made it possible for our juniors to participate once again in the WJT, showing considerable improvement.
3. Mr. Kumar suggested that I should have called the Ministry for clarification before writing BP. He may wish to ask his minister and the minister’s secretary of the number of unanswered written and oral communication not only from our Association but other sports bodies as well.
He may also wish to offer some explanation for a piece of advice given to me by an officer recently that I should have someone else sign letters from our Association!
4. Mr. Kumar carefully avoided the disclosure of the ballooning cost of the swimming pool and instead takes us around to the Non Pareil tennis courts which are as much a saga as the swimming pool, in terms of time, quality and increasing, undisclosed cost.
5. Now we are told that money from the Fund went to pay for the Guyana Classics, a project headed by Dr. David Dabydeen, recently appointed Ambassador to China. Carefully, Mr. Kumar did not specify how much of the five hundred million dollars allocated to the Fund so far was paid towards that project and who were the payees/beneficiaries.
6. Since Mr. Kumar accuses me of acting on dated information, can he tell us the last year for which Minister Frank Anthony tabled in the National Assembly, as required by the NSC Act, the annual report and audited financial statements of the NSC.
7. Finally, in connection with the status of the NSC, Mr. Kumar’s response is revealing indeed. He should ask its former Chairman Mr. Conrad Plummer why he has consistently disavowed association with the NSC and whether it was not because the NSC had been defunct and dead for several years. Overcome by the spirit of Easter, Cabinet we are now told has resurrected it!
To use a term in doubles tennis, the ball is now in Mr. Kumar’s and his Minister’s court.