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…as Nascimento, Dookhoo hammer him over out-of-control Futsal finals
Prime Minister, Brigadier Mark Phillips, who serves as Chairman of the National COVID-19 Task Force, appears to be at loggerhead with representatives of the Private Sector over the just concluded Guyana Football Federation/ Kashif and Shanghai Futsal Tournament, which resulted in a breach of the COVID-19 Protocols.
Amid a steep rise in COVID-19 cases in Guyana, hundreds of persons were seen in attendance at the Futsal finals at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall on Saturday, in total breach of the COVID-19 Protocols, which require, physical distance of 6ft and the wearing of mask, among others.
In a recording received by the Village Voice News, captured during a meeting on Monday (January 10), the Prime Minister could be heard, repeatedly declaring that he will not “preside over a post mortem” nor will he “point fingers” as Private Sector Representative, Kit Nascimento dubs it a “government event.”
In justifying the decision of the Task Force to grant permission for the hosting of the futsal tournament, Prime Minister Phillips pointed out that permissions were granted for the hosting of weddings and other social evets with the understanding that the organisers would adhere to the established protocols.
In the recording, the Prime Minister could be heard admitting that the breaches took place but made it clear that he will not be pointing fingers.
“Yes, Kashif and Shanghai, they failed us all, and we have to take corrective actions,” he said. Interjecting, Nascimento sought to justify his reason for dubbing it a government event but, in cutting him short, the Prime Minister maintained that it was not a government event. “You don’t need to because it was not a government event,” the Prime Minister was heard saying repeatedly.
Out of what appeared to be frustration, the Prime Minister again admitted that the organisers of the Futsal tournament failed the Task Force. “The organisers, they have failed us, they have failed us. We allowed this football to happen based on an understanding that they would follow the guidelines; they did not and we have to sanction them,” he said.
Determined to make his point, Nascimento, nonetheless, said while it may not have been a ‘government event,’ it was heavily supported by the government, and promoted by the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Charles Ramson Jr. “Don’t let us go there. Don’t let us go there Kit,” the Prime Minister was heard telling Nascimento.
He added: “Let us be objective, and let us accept that things went wrong. I am not going to preside over pointing at people here.” Prime Minister said should the Task Force take a decision to shut down entertainment hubs and sporting events, it is the very Private Sector will complain over the lack of business.
“If this taskforce shuts down all activities that are sport-related, shutdown all activities that are entertainment related, like the cinemas, as you claim may not be checking for the vaccines, you know we will have an uproar from the same private sector,” he posited.
Ramesh Dookhoo, another Private Sector Representative, enquired about the mitigating measures that will be put in place to avoid a reoccurrence, and was told by the Prime Minister that if they so desire, a special meeting can be organised with the organisers of the Futsal tournament for that particular matter to be ventilated and measures developed. He told those present that it was important for them to direct their energies toward fixing the problems at hand.
The People’s National Congress Reform, over the weekend, had also expressed concern over the event. “What is most concerning and very worrying is that while other groups are refused permission to hold similar events, the PPP/C is willing to risk the lives of Guyanese to permit a group that supports its political agenda to host a super spreader event amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. In our view no group should be given permission at this time, but the government seems committed to enriching its elites, family, friends and cronies at the expense of the lives of the people of Guyana. The government needs to end this practice and not politicize Covid-19,” the party said.