THE PRIME Minister believes hosting the 2020 edition of the CPL (Caribbean Premier League), scheduled to run from August 18 to September 12, is a smart economic move which will bring business to TT.
Speaking during the opening of the Bagatelle Community Centre, Diego Martin on Friday, Dr Rowley explained his Government’s decision to welcome a number of overseas cricketers, officials and media crew members into the country, even though the TT borders have remained closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The CPL players are not coming from places where the borders are closed. We are doing a number of things at once. The closing of our borders to keep the virus out is priority number one. We want out economy to stay alive and this cricket is part of our economic resurgence.
“The cricket is not in competition with anybody." Rowley continued. "Those who want to come home, I trust that when they come home they would want to meet an economy that is alive. There are numbers that economists have pulled up and it’s a positive number. It will bring opportunities for those who are directly involved but more so it is a restart of an engine.”
Rowley stated that the Government is currently bringing in nationals from areas where the pandemic is still prevalent.
He added, “For the (duration of tournament) we will be featured worldwide with our best exposure. By playing the tournament here, we are sending a signal that, and it’s accepted worldwide, that our condition here in TT is as healthy as it could be in this pandemic and that we are coming back to some semblance of normalcy.”
Earlier on Friday, Member of Parliament for Naparima, Rodney Charles, called on the Prime Minister to explain the reasoning behind Government’s haste in putting systems in place for TT to host the CPL while refusing to grant TT nationals permission to return home in time for the August 10 general elections.
In a media release, Charles questioned Rowley’s exemption to permit over 250 foreigners to enter TT for the 2020 CPL. These players will stay at the Hilton Hotel, St Ann's.
Charles’ query followed Thursday’s confirmation by Minister of Sport Shamfa Cudjoe that TT would host the highly-anticipated T20 tournament for its contracted third and final year. Cudjoe also outlined exclusive quarantine procedures for arriving players.
His statement read, “Special quarantine arrangements could have been put in place. US$1.1 billion has been allocated to be withdrawn from the Heritage and Stabalisation Fund for ‘rescue work’ and endless borrowing from multiple lending agencies. Yet the Government has dragged its feet to allow our citizens to return home in time to safely exercise their constitutional right to vote.”
The Naparima MP believes measures should have been put in place to facilitate citizens before calling the election since the Government would have known weeks in advance of their intention to do so.
“Our citizens (abroad) are suffering, many of them are running out of funds and there is also a mental toll caused by being away from their families for such a prolonged period,” the release stated.
Following several weeks of negotiations, the Ministry of Sport and CPL organisers agreed to have the visiting players tested before leaving for TT. Upon arrival, they will be retested before heading into a 14-day quarantine period ahead of the CPL. On the seventh day, the player will be retested and once more, on the 14th day.
Charles also indicated that citizens have offered to pay their own airfare and quarantine fees but received no directives from the Government. While he does not oppose the hosting of the CPL, Charles believes similar provisions should be made to assist the TT nationals.