Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Too Easily Bowled Over

When it comes to pinpointing some of the obvious reasons for the recurrent failure of the West Indies cricket team in recent times, the piece by Guyson Mayers in today's Advocate hits many nails squarely on their heads (see Advocate article 'We are missing something'). In particular, he points to something that I and some others have said about cricket as a metaphor for how things in the Caribbean are allowed to proceed. As he writes:

'My main concern is what does all this say about us as a people? Here, I am not speaking about winning or losing, but about our slowness to recognise our weaknesses and or our unwillingness to move to correct our wrongs.

“This thing goes beyond the boundary.” This speaks to character traits that engender practices that will keep us from realising our true potential, in cricket and otherwise.

I really do not feel the need to go beyond that. But, I will in the direction of character traits. Whenever I have been to watch cricket at Kensington Oval--and it has only been since the stadium was rebuilt--I have asked myself a set of questions, mainly along the lines of how are people regularly convinced and reassure about the real economic worth of the decision to rebuild--and by extension, about other major public decisions? It goes to whether people are prepared to see the gloss and just take it that all is well and not pose any questions? Is it also that policy and decision makers exploit this lack of willingness to question by offering little or nothing by way of justifications? The kerfuffle about the cost of Dodds Prison is one of those cases in point.

My ever-analytical wife added to some of them today as we were in the ground, but she wanted the answers on her desk by the morning. The questions go to how much do we understand and care about the value of this sport and what its economic impact has been, is, and will be? At the end of a series played in Barbados do certain questions get asked and answered and if they do, how are the answers used for the next occasion? I will pose a few of these questions, and in doing so, lament the fact that if the questions are being asked by policy makers and answered by those involved where is the public sharing of that analysis?

What are the attendance totals for the events and the revenue from gate receipts? How much of that goes to Barbados and how much must be shared with other countries?
What are the sales figures for vendors?
What is the cost of park-and-ride and what are the ridership and revenue figures?
Do taxis gain or lose from the public transport arrangements?
What are the identifiable costs to the government of providing security for the events?
I like to know about the tourist arrivals and spending and have some clear idea of how that has been generated by the event.

These questions are not a full list but really beg for a cost-benefit analysis of major events such as World Cup and Twenty 20 cricket. I cannot understand how the politicians and nation as a whole can evaluate whether these events are worthwhile.

Someone adjacent to me asked where were the solar panels at Kensington Oval. I said I was no engineer, so where ever they were they were not immediately visible. We then discussed whether solar power was being used for water heating, as should be the case. We also wondered why the design did not have more solar panelling to help generate electricity for lighting or other uses. Maybe these are questions that were asked and answered by architects and perhaps decisions were taken that meant that use of renewable energy was not going to be a centre piece of this centre piece structure. But, to me, it goes to what sort of vision one has and what one sees as progress.

The flag waving and wuk up and after match fireworks are all jolly good fun but I want to know what events such as these and big projects are really worth and I do want to hear anyone tell me about a bunch of intangibles.

1 comment:

Dennis Jones said...

I will give the Advocate credit for trying to grapple quickly with the implication of the recent cricket tournament, see Business Monday: T20 a welcome boost for local economy (http://www.barbadosadvocate.com/newsitem.asp?more=business&NewsID=10310), which focuses on the risks of lower tourism spending due to a bigger fall in tourists from the UK, who spend on average more than other national groups.