Blakeney defends inquiry panel
Sports Minister Glenn Blakeney has vigorously defended the integrity of the commission he formed to probe the finances of the Island’s two national sports.
Last week the Minister named a seven-member commission that is to investigate how Bermuda Cricket Board (BCB) and Bermuda Football Association (BFA) spent the nearly $20 million given to them by Government.
But the commission came under the scrutiny of Shadow Sports Minister Donte Hunt, who claimed it was a “clear conflict of interest” to have past BFA presidents Charles Marshall and Donald Dane and former BFA technical director Clyde Best on the panel.
Blakeney said he was quite “comfortable and confident” that the trio would make an “invaluable contribution” to the process.
“My shadow, Mr Hunt, is free to criticise me or my Government at anytime. However, when you stoop to the low level to dishonour and impugn men of upstanding character who have contributed individually and collectively to this Island community it’s just reprehensible and inexcusable,” he told
The Royal Gazette.
“It is totally mischievous to infer improper motive by singling out three upstanding men personally, who would have been the first to reject serving in the capacity they were asked had they felt conflicted in any way at all
“I am quite comfortable and confident that Mr Dane, Mr Marshall and Mr. Best will make an invaluable contribution as principled men of exemplary character, and I am honoured that they have agreed to serve on the committee with the four other members that constitute the members of the commission.”
The Minister also hit back at Opposition claims that Government mismanaged millions of dollars pumped into local football and cricket.
The OBA last week accused Government of not “enforcing” the requirements placed on the BCB and BFA to receive nearly $20 million of the public purse.
Hunt claimed that Government gave the two national sports considerable funding without both parties providing “substantial reasons” for the money and why it was being used even though they were required to. He also claimed that Government did not conduct regular audits to keep track of the money handed out to the two national sports.
But Blakeney said that wasn’t true.
“It’s utter nonsense because they (BCB and BFA) were kept in check with regards to all of the draw downs,” he said, “and they submitted all the full reports they are required to do.
“They presented a proposal upon which the Government made the decision favourably to allocate the funds and based on the proposal they complied.”
The Minister again defended Government’s decision to invest millions into the two sports and reminded the public that the inquiry into the BFA and BCB’s finances was not a proverbial “witch hunt”.
“The inquiry is not to look at how the money was spent with regard to it being misappropriated or anything like that,” he said. “It’s looking to see whether it could‘ve been spent better or directed in other areas as opposed to the areas it was directed in.
“We are now looking in hindsight to see if anything could’ve been done better and if there were mistakes made then let’s identify them and try not to repeat them.”
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