JULIEN NEAVES and JOEL BAILEY
THE Prime Minister said someone impersonating Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Roshan Parasram has written to the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) after an agreement had been made between the Government and the sporting organisation.
He was speaking Monday at a media briefing held at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s.
“Would you believe that after the Cabinet agree to the terms and conditions under which the CPL would be allowed...some person here in TT appears to have impersonated the CMO’s office and have sent to the CPL contrary information causing this whole matter to now be questioned as to whether or not the CPL would be held in TT.”
Dr Rowley said Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Shamfa Cudjoe had to now talk with the CPL and confirm the Government’s position regarding the information provided purportedly from the CMO’s office.
“There are people in this country who are prepared to undermine the national effort so that the country would fail so that they may succeed in their ambition and their agendas.” Asked by the media if there was an investigation about the fake information, Rowley said he could only confirm it did not come from the CMO and he could say no more.
Public Relations Head of the CPL Peter Miller, said on Monday, “I don’t think CPL needs to get involved in that. I’m not privy to the ins and outs of the discussions. It’s not something that we need to be commenting on.”
Miller mentioned that the CPL’s primary focus is to ensure that everything is in place for the event, which will take place, behind closed doors, from August 18 to September 10 at two venues – Queen’s Park Oval in St Clair and Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba.
“We’re very much in the process of getting everything sorted,” Miller said. “There is a lot more still to do. The CPL is working very hard to get the tournament under way.
“We’re doing so as hard as we can,” Miller added. “We might look like calm swans on the surface but there is a lot of paddling to get things ready. Our preparations are moving along quite nicely.”
Asked about the projected overall revenue, Rowley said that would come later on.
He said there had been people complaining about TT hosting the CPL and repatriation of citizens outside the closed borders but the two things were not mutually exclusive. He explained that Government has a policy of lives and livelihood and this country hosting CPL was about livelihood and it would not negatively impact life and death situation in TT.
He said with the virtual closure of the economy as part of covid19 preventative measures, Government urged the private sector, as far as possible, not to send home workers or cut payrolls and many did that. He added that in that same spirit during the closure Government paid more than $12 million per month, to keep 1,000 staff at the State’s three hotels: Hilton, Hyatt and Magdalena Grand. He reported that Government paid $8 million a month for the 400 workers at Hyatt, $2.6 million a month for the 350-400 workers at Hilton, and $1.3 million a month for the 250 workers at Magdalena.
Rowley said TT was now sufficiently healthy and safe and with low enough risk that TT could host an international tournament, the CPL T20.
“We are the only country in the world at this time that can do that.”
He said the reason for that is because TT was rated number one in the world; he was likely referring to an Oxford University covid19 Government Response Tracker which listed this country as number one out of 152 countries in terms of preparedness to lift covid19 lockdown measures.
“Those who made the assessment had rated us number one in the world as the country that best handled this threat and this challenge. And the results are there to show. And, therefore, we can host the CPL when they approached us. It has nothing to do with bringing in CPL players and leaving citizens outside of TT. Because whether the CPL had come to us or not, the 200 rooms at the Hilton would not have been used for covid quarantine. As a matter of livelihood we could not.”
He said Government hotels were kept, as part of the country’s livelihood, away from quarantine arrangements so the infrastructure could be used “to rekindle our livelihood.”
He explained that Hilton rooms were available to 250 paying people, at their expense, and would help to reduce the country’s economic burden of $2.6 million per month for “doing nothing” but from August 18 – September 10 the hotel would do normal business.
“Some people have a problem with that. And some of them you know them by name, rank and political number.”
He was likely referring to complaints from Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar that the country was bringing in CPL players while citizens were stranded abroad with the closed borders.