Shaw hails historic Caymanas divestment
A "Historic occasion" was how Finance Minister Audley Shaw described the official signing over of the Government's divestment of Caymanas Park, between Caymanas Track Limited (CTL) and the new owner Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL) nd Shaw himself at the offices of the Ministry of Finance, Heroes Circle, yesterday.
Shaw told the large gathering, including representatives of the new company, Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited; the Government's negotiating team; CTL board members, technocrats and various stakeholders, that with the process complete, it was "a win-win" for the racing industry.
Paul Hoo, chairman of Supreme Ventures Limited, signed on behalf of his company, while Danville Walker did likewise in his capacity as CTL chairman.
Noting that since 1987, there have been five attempts to divest Caymanas Park, Shaw said with this now a reality, the Government of Jamaica has recognised the importance of the racing industry in the scheme of things. Shaw spoke of numerous advantages not only to the wider industry but to the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC) and the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission, among other entities.
He said the new racing promoter (SVL) is expected to allow for a positive cash flow of approximately $42 million to the operations of the JRC, which will not only be used for regulation, but, in particular, towards development projects.
These include the state of the art improvement of the UWI/JRC lab, which conducts drug testing for the horse racing industry; the upgrading of surveillance cameras in the testing barn at Caymanas Park; fully operational Satellite Office at the racetrack in the medium terms that will provide full registration and licensing services, levy contributions and the Establishment of a Stud Farm Development Fund.
He also spoke of the planned merger of the Jamaica Racing Commission, Betting Gaming and Lotteries Commission and the Casino Gaming Commission into one entity to create greater efficiency.
The handing over of the racetrack to Supreme Ventures will take place on Tuesday, March 7 and it was revealed that a $200 million redundancy package has been set aside for the CTL workers, most of whom will be re-employed by Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited to ensure a smooth transition.
Shaw said all this has broad significance in the context of government's policy of rationalisation of the public sector.
"What are we doing with all these public bodies?" Shaw asked as he identified as many as 84 that will be considered for divestment.
"This is a great day for Jamaica ... a great day for Caymanas Track," declared the Minister, who added that the lottery company's (SVL) expertise in the gaming industry should transform Caymanas Park into a world class entertainment complex.
Also speaking were State Minister in the Finance Ministry, Fayval Williams, as well as Danville Williams and Paul Hoo, who disclosed that Brando Hayden will assume the role of chief operating officer of SVL Racing and Entertainment and Chris Armond, director of racing.