Fri | Dec 9, 2016

EDITORIAL - Jamaica won't pay, Mr Gonsalves

Published:Thursday | November 6, 2014 | 12:00 AM

If he comes knocking, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller must be unambiguous with Ralph Gonsalves, her Vincentian counterpart, that Jamaicans help pay the more than J$7 billion to the Indian cricket authorities from the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).

And she must be clear that it is not because Jamaica can't afford it - which we can't. Rather, it is not an obligation of Jamaica's taxpayers, moral or otherwise. Moreover, it would send a bad signal about the conduct of industrial relations, including rewarding the impunity of the senior West Indies cricketers, whose wildcat strike and abandonment of the tour of the subcontinent led to the demand for compensation by the Indian cricket board. Further, before any regional government considers any contribution to this fund, people should know that the players who triggered the crisis, and against whom the WICB probably has a credible case in contract law, will put up some of the money, and how this is to be done.

Additionally, and before Jamaica's or the government of any other Caribbean cricketing territory engages in any money discussion with Mr Gonsalves, the WICB must tell West Indian taxpayers, and other stakeholders, the specifics of the agreement it arrived at with the striking players and their trade union, the West Indies Players Association (WIPA), facilitated by the St Vincent prime minister.

Indeed, people must be reminded that the strike was not primarily a dispute between the players and their employers, the WICB, which manages cricket in the Caribbean. It was between the players and their union, over the new wage contract and terms of employment it negotiated with the board, which it is legally mandated to do.

The players didn't like the terms because sponsorship income that the WICB used to share with selectees to senior teams is to now finance contracts with 90 players of territorial franchises, who in the past earned little or nothing from the game. The expectation of sharing the cricketing wealth around is the professionalisation of the game in the region. This, hopefully, would lead to a deeper cadre of good players and better results for the West Indies.

That the players may not have liked the terms agreed by their union is one thing. It is another, however, with puerile arrogance, to walk out of the tour, leaving the WICB with a huge financial obligation, which Mr Gonsalves wants taxpayers to embrace, and for the players to face no consequences for their embarrassing and financially costly display of unprofessionalism.

For all the faults of the WICB, that cannot wash!

Polygraph tests and corruption

We appreciate the government's wish, as outlined by Peter Bunting, the security minister, to, as a matter of policy, use polygraph tests to help determine who is employed or promoted to sensitive positions in the public sector.

This would help fight corruption, the perception of which, myriad surveys show, is widespread in Jamaica, costing the country, as Mr Bunting said, many millions of dollars annually. That loss is not only in the money stolen from Government by public servants. It is, too, in the additional transactional cost of doing business in Jamaica and in forgone investment and economic growth.

But as Mr Bunting is aware, corruption cannot be fought only at the operational level of the public sector. It starts with leadership and the tone set and environment created by the political executive. That begins with who political parties select to represent them at all levels of the political system.

We do not believe that on this front Jamaica's political parties are robust enough in attacking the culture of corruption. Does Mr Bunting?

The opinions on this page, except for the above, do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gleaner. To respond to a Gleaner editorial, email us: editor@gleanerjm.com or fax: 922-6223. Responses should be no longer than 400 words. Not all responses will be published.