April 29, 2007

Cricket Disappointments & Integration

Publication:Jamaica Observer;
Date:Apr 29, 2007;
Page Number:13A

Cricket disappointments will test Caribbean integration

WITH all the recriminations and finger-pointing among Caribbean governments, cricket administrators and the people of the region over the disappointments associated with Cricket World Cup 2007, the regional integration movement will be severely tested in the months ahead.
The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and its subsidiary commercial companies are under fire for genuflecting to the International Cricket Council (ICC) and negotiating a bad agreement; Governments are under pressure for spending too much money without proper risk analysis; and every uncharitable adjective has been used to characterise the team’s failure to compete at the global level.
Each country will now have to maximise the use of the stadiums they have built at enormous sacrifice. With so much over-capacity for hosting international cricket, there will inevitably be serious competition among them for use of these venues as they cannot be supported by traditional cricket arrangements alone. Will this competition spill over into other areas of regional trade and investment? Furthermore, if the leaders cannot quickly find economic use for the facilities they will inevitably face further domestic political criticism. In such a scenario I can easily imagine upcoming meetings of Caribbean leaders with comments around the room as to who was responsible for not negotiating hard enough and for not taking a common position in dealing with the ICC.
The mood today is very different from the ‘feel good’ sentiments after the opening ceremony on March 11 at the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium and the first round victories of the West Indies team that promised so much and delivered so little. The early gospel of 100,000 expected visitors and US$500 million in revenue, which was the justification for the US$400-million investment in 12 stadiums and related infrastructure in nine countries, has not been fulfilled and the global TV audiences that would boost tourism and attract investment to the region did not materialise.
Indiatimes.com reported Friday that this ninth staging of cricket’s mega-event was the least-watched Cricket World Cup in history. TV viewership dropped nearly 40 per cent compared to the 2003 edition, according to industry estimates, the report said.
On the plus side, the head of the Barbados Local Organising Committee was telling the BBC on Thursday that their original expectation of $25-million in ticket sales from their second round Super 8 matches and yesterday’s finals at Kensington Oval between Australia and Sri Lanka would be exceeded by a substantial margin.
Also, Ken Gordon, president of the WICB, believes that the Board will make enough out of the event to eliminate its US$15 million or, at least reduce it substantially. He also pointed to the fact the region met the challenge of staging the event with some success, despite the odds. “This is the third largest event in the world. And we have done it when people didn’t think we could. And I think at the end of the day, we should all take some little pride in achieving it,” Gordon told the Trinidad Express.
These pluses notwithstanding, there are serious minuses that cannot be wished away, and that’s why I support the call from Rickey Singh (Sunday Observer, April 22) for an objective and dispassionate enquiry into the hosting of the tournament. Such an inquiry would help the region to build on the positive outcomes, maximise the massive investments in cricket infrastructure while ensuring that the mistakes are not repeated in future endeavours.
We now know that the early elimination of India and Pakistan seriously undermined the financial projections and attendance at matches; this is especially true of India, which is the financial powerhouse of global cricket.
With a population of more than 1.2 billion, a large and affluent diaspora, and a booming economy, India has the fan base at home and abroad to fill stadiums anywhere in the world and they have a huge domestic market of hundreds of millions of consumers anxious to buy the electronics and beverages that sponsors want to push through television advertising.
We also know that ticket prices were set by the LOCs at levels that would bring as much revenue as possible to governments as this was their only guaranteed revenue source to match the huge investments in infrastructure. So the primary focus was not on the affordability for our own people. But despite these obvious explanations, there are important reasons to understand the lessons from the experience if the negatives are not to jeopardise the regional integration process and cricket as the exemplar of that historic process.
Cricket and globalisation
Professor Norman Girvan, writing in the Trinidad Express (April 12) outlined some of the more important lessons from the experience by relating CWC 2007 to the region’s capacity to function in the context of economic globalisation. “CWC 2007 is symptomatic of the way in which we deal with globalisation. We can genuflect before foreign offers; or we can be critical, and bargain purposively and as a single unit to get what is in our own interest. Will the lessons be learnt?”
Girvan’s question should be pondered seriously, not only by cricket administrators but by policy makers at every level throughout the region. His first concern is that our cricket administrators did not negotiate a good Host Venue Agreement (HVA) and so there is no point blaming the ICC. “What we did was to capitulate rather than negotiate. If there was a bad agreement with the ICC, it is we in the Caribbean who must take responsibility for having negotiated it. Cricket is a global business.”
The point is very important in the context of an unequal world in which countries and corporations come to the global negotiating table with unequal skills and resources. We see it at the World Trade Organisation where small nations are pressured to open up their markets to the goods and services from rich and powerful nations, but there is no reciprocity.
We see it in some foreign direct investment deals where governments, desperate to attract an investment from an influential corporation, are sometimes less than prudent in granting concessions or in ensuring that their own environmental and labour standards are not violated.
The region has experienced negotiators going back to the 1960s. We can recall people like Jamaica’s Robert Lightbourne successfully negotiating the sugar agreement to our collective benefit, through to the 1970s when Michael Manley, with technical and strategic advice from people like Girvan, Mayer Matalon and Patrick Rousseau (the point man for WICB in getting CWC 2007), renegotiated the bauxite agreement with US corporations.
So why did we blow it this time? As Girvan posed the question we need to find out whether someone gave the ICC and open-ended agreement from the very beginning so that we had locked ourselves into a corner. Somebody needs to explain. Another lesson from CWC 2007, according to Girvan, is the need to maintain a united regional front. “The argument that too many national jurisdictions were involved in the negotiations won’t wash. The umbrella agreement was negotiated by regional entities and the Heads of Government were party to the arrangements.
Problems that subsequently arose should have been dealt with at the regional level, with the West Indies speaking with one voice. In dealing with powerful international organisations, regional unity is vital, and disunity is fatal.” Rickey Singh underscores the point of regional unanimity. “The leaders may well have gone wrong when they initially failed to adopt a policy of unanimity, as proposed by one prime minister and with at least two others leading the objection that was to result in the individual country biddings, instead of a unanimously agreed initiative to take care of all events, starting from the ceremonial launch of the World Cup, to the final and encompassing the preliminaries, Super Eights and semi-finals.” And this begs the question; if our leaders could not speak with one voice when facing the ICC, what can we expect on other important issues of regional and global politics such as Haiti, Venezuela, China, global warming and terrorism — to name a few? And, can these same leaders ensure that the promised benefits from the Caricom Single Market and Economy actually materialise when, in the end, this means actual diminution of sovereignty, rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding.
Finally, there is the question of cricket and Caribbean identity. The West Indies are the only team in world cricket that do not represent a nation. In the early days of the development of the game in the region, we were all colonies bound by a common future of independence and self-determination. That was motivation enough to beat England at the game they grudgingly taught us.
As separate, independent nations we have to find something that binds not just the team, but all of us as a region and a people with a common history and, hopefully, a common future. Had our cricket administrators and political leaders displayed unanimity and testicular fortitude in negotiating a better deal, the pride that Ken Gordon spoke of would be more evident today, even with modest on-field performance by the team.

April 24, 2007


EC US$48M Grant for Caricom Economic Integration
By Miranda La Rose
Saturday, April 21st 2007

Caricom/Cariforum Secretary General Edwin Carrington and newly-accredited Head of the EC Delegation to Guyana, Ambassador Geert Heikens shake hands after formalising the Contribution Agreement at the Caricom Secretariat yesterday.

Caricom and the European Commission (EC) yesterday signed a Contribution Agreement for a grant of 36.9 million Euros (US$48 million) to support Caricom economic integration in six areas.

More than half of the amount - 20 million Euros - would go toward implementing the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME).

Another component of the agreement is the support for the external trade negotiations by the CARIFORUM countries, through the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery, in particular the negotiations for the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States' representation in Geneva on World Trade Organisation matters. Support in this area is pegged at 4.8 million Euros.

The allocation to support the establishment and operation of the Caribbean Institute of Translation and Information (CRITI) to be located in Suriname is 1.7 million Euros; and support for the improvement and harmonized production of economic and statistical data at the regional and national levels in Caricom is 3.3 million Euros.

General institutional support to the Caricom Secretariat is 3.1 million Euros; support for the development of the Caricom Information and Communication Society, 2 million Euros; and support for the reduction of supply and demand for illegal drugs is 1.2 million Euros.

The Contribution Agreement is part of a 40.5 million Euros financing agreement that Edwin Carrington, Caricom Secre-tary General also acting on behalf of CARIFORUM signed with the European Union Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid in Brussels, Belgium in January this year.

The funds come from the Ninth European Development Fund (EDF) Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme.

At yesterday's signing ceremony held at the Caricom Secretariat, Turkeyen, Carrington, signed on behalf of Cariforum while newly-accredited Head of Delegation of the European Commission to Guyana, Geert Heikens signed on behalf of the EC.

In brief remarks Heikens noted that the agreement, which gives Caricom greater ownership and more direct management of the funds, makes the EC one of the largest, "if not the largest" donor to Caricom.

Noting that the principal objective of the programme was to advance regional integration and some 20 million Euros was going towards the establishment and consolidation of the CSME, he said the EU's experience has shown the great benefits that could be enjoyed from being a regional body of countries working for common objectives.

He appreciated the move to establish the Information and Translation Institute to deal with the needs of the region which has four different official languages, noting that the EU has the challenge of coping with 21 official languages.

One major opportunity for greater integration, he noted, would be to bring Haiti further into the Caricom fold and the Dominican Republic closer. He said the EC welcomed the inclusion of the Dominican Republic staff in the Caricom Secretariat.

Noting the support going towards EPA negotiations he said he would "strongly encourage the region (to conclude the agreement) because it is a useful and necessary development instrument which will support you in building up intra- and extra-regional markets; it represents the best way of replacing existing trade preferences that are coming to an end under WTO rules; and the commission mindful of the needs of the region, is prepared to be flexible in allowing implementation at a staggered pace with possibly some exceptions for sensitive products."

In addition, he said that the EU has just made "the generous offer to allow duty free access of all ACP goods into the EU, with a transitional period for rice and sugar."

April 19, 2007

Your Vote

The issue of the Caribbean Court of Justice is a real one. The reality is that as Jamaicans we need to take a serious look at the pros and cons of having the CCJ as our final appellate court in place of the UK Privy Council. We need to make informed decisions. Not decisions based on emotions, hearsay and speculatons. Rather, we need to think analytically about the issue and let our voices be heard both locally and internationally.
Why not have your say, here on this issue.
Do you think that the CCJ should be the final Court of appeal for Jamaica?
Place your vote to the right and click General CCJ Comments to share your views.
Thanks for sharing and joining the discussion.
Kindest Regards,

April 12, 2007

Top-down Caribbean Integration - Daley

Regional leaders just don't get it. When they get together for their periodic summits to discuss their fancy reports and studies, they seem to think the rest of the Caribbean has a deep, abiding care. Most people don't.

The reason there is no huge interest in this whole business of regional integration has to do with the fact that ordinary people are still being left out of the discussions.

Those who have observed and studied the integration project since the time of the failed West Indian Federation in the 1950s have repeatedly pointed to the problem of leaders seeking to integrate from the top down. It didn't work in the past and there is hardly any reason for thinking it's going to work now.


On that matter of Federation, a report of a working group on ways to strengthen regional governance is one of the latest issues to occupy the minds of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders. Its recommendation for the creation of a supranational body is far-reaching and, in many ways, paints the outlines of a federal structure.

The so-called CARICOM Commission, modelled on the successful European Commission, is aimed at clearing the way for swifter decision making within the regional com-munity, especially in the context of an emerging single market and economy. The idea has been floating about for years now but it looks like steps are being taken to move it to implementation.

According to the recent report of the working group, the "Commission, in the exercise of its functions, should have authority to intervene within individual national systems and at the level of regional entities on behalf of the collective political directorate in the elaboration and execution of agreed decisions."

That mandate is sure to scare some people who still have fears that attempts are being made to federate through the back door.

Leaders have endorsed the report of the working group, which was headed by Dr. Vaughan Lewis, former Prime Minister of St. Lucia and a respected academic in his own right. That was in February. Since then, there has been little discussion about the whole thing. Granted, Cricket World Cup has taken the spotlight, but I'm not convinced enough is being done by the leaders through their technocrats and communications specialists to have the idea of the commission ventilated and explained.

Political opportunism

Without this genuine discussion, there will be ample room for political opportunism when crunch time comes around for political parties. The proposed Commission represents a delicate initiative which has to be handled with care, especially since it involves surrendering some aspects of national sovereignty.

It's not too complicated for ordinary people to understand if they are provided with sufficient and appropriate information as to how it would work and the benefits to be derived. After that, they can decide whether they want to gamble on it or not.

What we have had, too often, over the years are regional leaders making decisions about people's lives without having the benefit of widespread public consultation and feedback. It's the usual top-down attitude that hasn't worked.

There is a chance with this proposed Commission to change that approach by involving everyone - from the man on the street corner to the Opposition parties - in the discussions. I can think of a few regional institutions that might have benefited from that more enlightened way of doing business.
Source - Jamaica Gleaner