Over 500 communities had applied to have their grounds benefit from the Ministry of Education (MOE), Department of Culture, Youth and Sport, Ground Enhancement Programme (GEP) this year but only 53 were successful in their bid.
Initially, a sum of $1million was allocated to successful applicants to uplift their grounds but that system was quashed in 2016 and successful applicants were able receive monies based on their facilities needs.
Speaking with Kaieteur Sport, Project Director of the Ground Enhancement Programme, Randolph Critchlow stated that his goal was to have all the community grounds that were successful in their applications outfitted with lights.
He explained: “The initial sum of $300 million would’ve been sufficient to have lights installed in all of the targeted grounds.”
However, the ground enhancement fund which was $300 million in 2015 was slashed by Minister Nicolette Henry to $150 million in 2016 and further reduced to 146 million in 2017. Then Minister of Sport, Youth and Culture, Henry stated that, “Quality is more important that quantity”, during her 2016 budget debate speech.
Critchlow noted that the major problem in his department efficiently performing its duties was insufficient funding.
Before 2016, each successful application would’ve seen that ground being granted $1 million.
Critchlow continued: “Giving a million dollars across the board proved problematic because grounds had varying needs.” Out of the 53 grounds which were successful in applying to gain from the ground enhancement fund, 18 are major projects.
Major projects will see those grounds being allocated as much as $8 million to do works. Region One, Mabaruma Settlement ground is one of the major projects for 2017 and has been the full $8million dollars which will go towards giving the playing area a face lift and construction of a pavilion and washroom facilities.
South Vryheid’s Lust Community Centre has been approved for $6 million. Also, the New Opportunity Core ground, Essequibo is set to be outfitted with lights while the Ministry of Health ground, opposite the Square of the Revolution will have the playing surface redone, lights installed and benches erected.
One of the prerequisite to tap into the community ground enhancement grant is that the ground must have an elected functioning committee with the records of such elections being provided.
Critchlow admitted to Kaieteur Sport that his department had erred in that, “We had taken the initiative to engage some communities whose grounds needed rehabilitation but didn’t have a ground committee. It didn’t work out because since these grounds lacked a committee, within a matter of two months, the grounds reverted to their deplorable states. There was no clear delegation of duties between the residents to ensure the grounds were up kept.”
Going forward, Critchlow stated that the requirement of functioning community ground committees will be much stricter.
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