Government launches probe into Kensington management company

Government has ordered an urgent investigation into the operations of the state-owned Kensington Oval Management Incorporated (KOMI), following startling allegations of mismanagement and abuse at the agency that manages the home of cricket.

In an unsigned six-page letter on KOMI’s letterhead, purportedly written by staff, and addressed to Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley, an image was presented of a company in disarray and staff at the end of their tether.

The letter dated February 22, 2017, includes a number of serious allegations, which Barbados TODAY has decided not to publish because of the legal implications.

However, there were questions raised about the ethics involved in some business decisions, and concerns about the company’s direction and its financial viability, with the authors making it clear there was a crisis of confidence at KOMI.

“I can confirm receiving the unsigned letter. I have instructed the chairman [Anthony Waldron] to investigate the contents of the letter and submit a report to me in the shortest possible time. Even though it is an anonymous letter, the allegations are serious enough . . . and as minister responsible [for KOMI] I have a responsibility to look into them,” Lashley told Barbados TODAY Wednesday afternoon.

The issues appeared to be deep-seated and long-running, with the letter writers informing the minister that the workers’ representative, the Barbados Workers’ Union had raised their concerns with Permanent Secretary Ruth Blackman back on April 7, 2016, but she had not kept her promise to convene another meeting “within a few weeks”.   

Having failed to get a response from Blackman, they decided to turn to Lashley, the letter stated.

“A promise was made by her to get to the bottom of said issues and get back to us within a few weeks. A year has almost passed and we’re unable to get any form of communication or to reconvene a meeting. These issues are still unresolved and additional issues have since surfaced, hence your receipt of this letter,” they wrote to Lashley.

It was just last month that Lashley had dismissed media reports that Government was planning to acquire Kensington Oval, even as he admitted that the current lease arrangements were unsustainable.

A statement issued by the Barbados Government Information Service had said Government was “carefully reviewing” the lease arrangements ahead of a meeting with the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) on the future management of the sporting facility.

Lashley explained then that the BCA had written to the Freundel Stuart administration requesting a meeting to discuss certain matters pertaining to Kensington, and the relevant ministries were examining all the arrangements in place with respect to the Oval in preparation for those talks.

“To suggest that there is some new plan to acquire Kensington Oval because the Government sees it as a ‘gold mine’ . . . is really to engage in an exercise of speculation,” Lashley had said.

He maintained at the time that his ministry had intended to explore with the BCA “the best way forward” for the future management of Kensington Oval, and in the best interest of cricket generally. He added that Government had already made a substantial investment in Kensington Oval, and hence had a vested interest in preserving the ‘Mecca’ of cricket.


emmanueljoseph@barbadostoday.bb

13 Responses to Government launches probe into Kensington management company

  1. Sheldon Cox
    Sheldon Cox March 23, 2017 at 2:19 am

    Check all the rest of boards as well

    Reply
  2. Greengiant March 23, 2017 at 5:13 am

    I heard that it’s a similar situation at GAIA Inc as well. Senior staff escapes with some really unethical behavior in these government owned companies that they wouldn’t even dream of in the private sector.

    Reply
  3. Anne Ince
    Anne Ince March 23, 2017 at 6:35 am

    A damn shame…..

    Reply
  4. Tony Webster March 23, 2017 at 6:52 am

    The Old Woman living in a shoe with 63 rumbunctious children….and didn’t know what to do?

    @Greengiant: no surprise: delegation of authority without retention of ultimate resonsibility, together with appropriate reporting and oversight at ministerial level, is a recipe for national disaster.

    Some folks, evidently, can only learn from mistakes.

    Reply
  5. Angus Benn
    Angus Benn March 23, 2017 at 7:25 am

    KHOMI OWED A PROMOTER FOR A REGGAE SHOW. THAT WAS HELD AT THE OVAL SINCE 2012 WITH MOVADO. THE PROMOTER SUED KHOMI .ALL NOW THAT PROMOTER WAITING ON THE REGISTRAR TO SEND BACK THE DOCUMENTS SO THAT THEY COULD GO AND SEIZED THE OVAL. BUT THERE IS A LOT OF DOUBLE STANDARD IN BARBADOS. THE PROMOTER PLAN TO TAKE THE MATTER TO THE CCJ. THE MANAGEMENT OPEN ON GATE FOR A BIG SHOW LIKE THAT AND CAUSE THE PROMOTER TO LOSE A LOT OF MONEY. ALSO THE MANAGEMENT TAKE A BAR IN ORDER TO CUT COST. SINCE 2015 THE PROMOTER WAITING ON THE REGISTRAR TO SEND BACK THE DOCUMENTS. I WANT THE MINISTER TO LOOK INTO THIS MATTER . BECAUSE IT LOOKS AS THOUGH THAT THE REGISTRAR HAVE ONE LAW FOR POOR PEOPLE AND ANOTHER LAW FOR RICH PEOPLE. COULD YOU KNOW HOW MUCH PEOPLE COULD OF LOST THEIR LIVES THAT NIGHT. I WAS TRYING TO GET IN THAT ONE SMALL GATE FOR A BIG SHOW LIKE THAT. WITH PEOPLE PUSHING AND SCREAMING. I TURNED BACK AND WENT BACK HOME. I COULD SEE THAT IT WAS SABOTAGE. BECAUSE OTHER PROMOTER USUALLY KEEP SHOWS THEIR AND I NEVER SEE THAT THEY OPEN ONE GATE.

    Reply
  6. gsmiley March 23, 2017 at 8:05 am

    Oh Lord Angus. Can’t say anymore.

    Reply
  7. Donild Trimp March 23, 2017 at 9:42 am

    Great move Mr.Lashley.

    Lead from the front.

    Time for the fraud and entitlement mentality in barbados to end.

    Reply
  8. jrsmith March 23, 2017 at 10:57 am

    Well , well , well, the bigger failure investigation the lesser all corrupt and non trustworthy…
    Isn’t any one in barbados going to take responsibility for the massive mess, our country is in……..everywhere government is involve is a mess ……………………
    ………………………………………………………………………………..
    For a proper investigation to be undertaken , in this case we must find an independent investigative company to get on with the matter in hand….. preferably non barbados…….
    ………………………………………………………………………………..
    Beyond this if the government is so keen on investigations .
    lets see them take on, the recovery or prosecution in the courts for the hundreds of millions of our tax payers money owing or unaccounted for which was published by the last (AUDIT GENERAL’S ) report……. lets go , lets go……….

    Reply
  9. Colin Daniel March 23, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Why is the Barbados government involved with this. They could have funded the redevelopment and let BCA pay them rather than the other way around. There is less activity there these days than before and would be if the BCA had the responsibility to running it.

    Reply
  10. Milli Watt March 23, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    To the Minister: when was the last audited financial statement of KOMI laid in parliament. Don’t answer that. When was the last time you made sure the statements were laid before the house. Don’t answer that. When was the last time you ACTED in the position of Minister. You can answer that. This post independent experiment is a total FAILURE STUPSE!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  11. Francis March 23, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    GAIA Inc is the same way. Badly run with foolish decisions being made.
    People on the board who don’t know an aircraft from a kite!!
    Politics all politics!!

    Reply
  12. Greengiant March 23, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    It’s not necessarily about knowing how to run an airport. It’s more like too many directors making imprudent decisions and over spending on projects, purchases, services being outsourced the can be done internally and staff in some departments accumulating down time like civil servants do. While other departments are over staffed. The real problem is some of our business leaders don’t understand that it’s more feasible to start a business or project with the skeleton, adding muscle as the business grows, they build the whole body, then to sever limbs when the body is under fed. The body then bleeds to death, as the work load of the remaining limbs increase. The limbs get too accustomed to little work for their pay, so obviously they expect once you reduce staff, and work increases so should compensation. If you start wrong, it’s practically impossible to get it right without clearing house, for a fresh start. Obviously the cost of the demolition job is too much for the financial burden already being carried. This will be the eventual scenario at GAIA Inc.

    Reply
  13. Greengiant March 23, 2017 at 10:35 pm

    It’s also time to abolish the practice of accumulating years of tenure in the public or private sector. Short termed contracts with a gratuity payment at the end of the contractual period will create a win win situation for all. Workers gratuity will be reflective of the time spent on the job and the work produced. Companies and government departments will have to invest more in health, safety, training and retraining. The performance of workers would determine whether or not they’re retired for another contractual period. The unions, Labour department, and tribunal could then focus on terms and conditions, with productivity bonus and gratuity payments being their area of focus. This. I think with the effort of the social partners can be the catalyst to drive this country forward to a bright future.

    I would like some opinions on this proposed model as I think this will be the only way to reduce corruption and other conflicts of interest. Simply put if you purchase a 100 lb bag of sugar you can’t sell more. Also you can only sell 80 lbs if you can show how and where you dispose of the other 20 lbs.

    Reply

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