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Work on Arnos Vale Sports Complex on May 9, 2024, in preparation for the Cricket World Cup in June.
Work on Arnos Vale Sports Complex on May 9, 2024, in preparation for the Cricket World Cup in June.
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The Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration is spending EC$38 million this year — in addition to EC$54 million spent in 2007 — to host the world’s weakest cricket teams, but has not delivered the promised modern hospital to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, says social commentator Jomo Thomas.

Thomas, a former Speaker of the House of Assembly under the ULP administration, made the point on his “Voices” programme on WE FM on Monday as he urged Vincentians to pay close attention to national issues as general elections draw closer.

“… an informed citizenry is the best guarantor of our democracy,” said Thomas, who was the ULP’s candidate for South Leeward in the 2015 election.

“… people have to pay attention as to what is happening…” he said, adding that some people, including “a lot in the opposition”, say they don’t listen to Gonsalves because they cannot stand him.

“But if you don’t listen to him, you have to read what he says. And you have to compare what he says with what appears to be the reality on the ground.”

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Vincentians are widely expected to go to the polls by November 2025, ahead of the February 2026 constitutional deadline.

The Unity Labour Party (ULP) is seeking a sixth consecutive five-year term in office, with the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) expected to be the main contender.

Thomas became Speaker of the House of Assembly after failing to win South Leeward for the ULP in the 2015 poll and stayed in the post until early 2020, when he quit the post and the ULP.

On Monday, he told listeners to be weary of euphoria leading up to the election, noting that euphoria often gives way to feelings of despair. 

He said that the government will point to the opening of the Sandals Resort and, among other things, the hosting of ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup games to cause people to forget, temporarily, the realities of their daily lives. 

“… we know that in 2006, 2007 the government bragged that it spent $56 million to upgrade the Arnos Vale playing Field, Stubbs Playing Field, Sion Hill Playing Field, Arnos Vale 2,” Thomas said.

He further noted that the ULP, in a recent article, said that the government was spending EC$83 million on sporting facilities this year — EC$38 million at Arnos Vale 1 primarily but also at Arnos Vale 2, Sion Hill and Cumberland Playing Field, plus EC$14 million at the Sir Vincent Beache National Stadium.

“They told us in the column that this new investment at Arnos Vale, just the six sets of lights alone and the electronic scoreboard will cost $17 million,” Thomas said. 

“If they’re spending $83 million this year on cricket — 38 at Arnos Vale and 45 at Diamond — and since 2010, we have been promised an updated, modern hospital. Why is the reason that we have not gotten the hospital in 15 years?” Thomas said.  

He noted that in the run-up to a general election, Gonsalves said that his party conducted a poll that said a small percentage of Vicnentinas were concerned about healthcare with a significantly large number focused on leadership.  

“I don’t know which poll found that …” Thomas said, adding,  “So that may explain why they have not paid much attention except for giving lip service to the idea of a new hospital.”

He noted that the government has earmarked lands at the decommissioned ET Joshua Airport in Arnos Vale to build an acute referral hospital.

“But nothing has been done,” Thomas said, noting that in the 2023 Budget, the government said that it would have broken ground for the hospital during the early months of this year.

“We’re now almost halfway through 2024 and nothing has been said or done. But we’re spending $83 million.”

Jomo THomas
Lawyer Jomo Thomas. (iWN file photo.)

Thomas agreed that sports facilities should be upgraded so that the performance of the nation’s young athletes can improve and the country can attract important sporting events.

“But if we take what’s happening, we are going to get some T20 games for this international cricket next month and then in December, we’re gonna get some T20 games again. 

“But who are we gonna get? Bangladesh. Now, you’re telling me that you’re spending $100 million in 20 years to host Bangladesh, a country that fights with … the West Indies for the bottom of the table in international cricket?

“You spend $100 million for that? And you do it at the expense of the hospital or at the expense of proper roads?”

Thomas said that the better the country’s roads are the more money the nation saves.

“Because if we can do an estimate of the millions of dollars that we spend in parts each year, we will see why …, on the problem of the road alone, this government should be removed.”

He estimated that vehicle owners spend tens of millions of dollars on spare parts annually because of bad roads.

“… and everybody knows that we have a lot of vehicles in St. Vincent now. Every hour is rush hour in St. Vincent,” he said, noting that the government has said there are about 30,000 vehicles on the roads. 

“But the roads are so bad that the shocks, the brake, the suspenders, all of those things, you just have to buy it and buy it and then the bad road cause you to damage your car, cause you to get into accident, cause you to burst your tyres — millions and millions of dollars are spent.”

He said the ULP in its column framed the spending on cricket as “investing unprecedented huge sums of money for the development of young people and the nation as a whole”.

Thomas  said:

“… if that’s what we want to do, we have to decide that. But for me, I don’t think that we’re spending the money properly. And I think there’s a big accountability problem.”

He said there is “zero transparency, we have little or no political hygiene”.

And all of those are haunting the body politics of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And that is why so many, so many, so many people have lost their way. That is why so many people are hopeless. That’s why so many people feel helpless and can’t do anything. So it is for the people of St Vincent to determine what they want to do,” Thomas said. 

2 replies on “SVG spends $92m to host world’s weakest cricket teams but fails to build new hospital — Thomas”

  1. Take warning says:

    In my opinion, building a hospital will not make a difference. Of course there be the building but certainly not a hospital. The nurse will still give you prescription to buy cough mixture and ventolin solution at eleven at night , saying boy if you want yo son go wake up a pharmacist to get the medications. and recently given prescription for intravenous meds and bold facedly telling you to leave one for donation? Do you remember, it was said the people love me more than their health ? If you are ill in his place and you have no money , the straw dogs better off than you.

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