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CARIFTA TV payment cut in half on contract breach

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

An upfront $50,000 cash payment related to broadcasting rights for last year’s 50th CARIFTA track and field championships was cut by 50 percent after organisers breached the contract.

The Auditor General’s Office, the Government’s own internal financial watchdog, in a report tabled in the House of Assembly yesterday revealed numerous flaws in sponsorship arrangements and compliance with these deals among multiple other concerns.

Apart from finding that 100 temporary staff hired by the CARIFTA Games Company Ltd, which was incorporated to organise the championships, were “assigned tasks unrelated to” the event, the report also detailed how $136,000 was lost on a Gospel concert that “bore no relevance” to track and field. And there was a further $50,641 net loss in sales of CARIFTA-related merchandise.

The Auditor General’s Office also asserted that organisers failed to get even the basics right as the CARIFTA Games Company was not registered correctly, and had been incorporated under the Companies Act instead of as a non-profit. “Execution and thorough examination of company registration ought to be performed by a competent professional,” its report said.

“Should any errors arise during the registration process, it is imperative that another individual with the necessary expertise be capable of scrutinising and rectifying discrepancies prior to the initiation of operations.” The Auditor General’s Office also found that the events organisation agreement, designed to assist with CARIFTA’s execution and planning, had not been signed.

The report detailed what has now become almost-standard findings for government ministries, departments and agencies, namely weak controls and non-compliance with established policies, procedures and protocols.

While the Auditor General’s Office’s report named none of the companies it referred to, instead using letters, a review of this newspaper’s files show controversy arose over the broadcasting rights contract. It said an agreement for a $50,000 “initial cash injection” with ‘Company C’ was executed on December 2, 2022.

This have that company a licence to broadcast CARIFTA with “technical support for the transmissions” to be provided by ‘Company F’. “Company G shall possess non-exclusive national television rights for The Bahamas territory specifically for the events televised to subscribers not associated with companies C and F,” the report added.

Tribune coverage at the time confirmed that Aliv was granted the broadcasting rights, while ZNS received “a direct line feed in terms of being able to broadcast the games free of charge”. Thus it appears likely that Company C is Aliv and Company G is ZNS.

However, the Auditor General’s Office found: “As a consequence of engaging in negotiations between LOC and Company G [ZNS], without duly acknowledging the previously established clauses with Company C (Aliv), it has been determined that the LOC (local organising committee) has violated the agreement. This non-compliance had led to a $25,000 cash penalty” that cut the original $50,000 payment by Aliv in half.

Elsewhere, the report said $30,000 remained “outstanding” and unpaid from a sponsor that had committed $300,000 to CARIFTA. And another sponsor’s “main proprietor” was reimbursed for providing $522,610 in “in-kind” goods and services even though this did not comply with CARIFTA’s spending and procurement control manual and violated the Public Finance Management Act 2021.

“As a consequence, the entire procurement process was bypassed, disregarding relevant sections,” the Auditor General’s Office found. Its report also found that weekly salaries rose by 38 percent as a result of temporary workers hired for CARIFTA performing tasks not associated with the event.

“There was an augmentation in weekly remunerations for the temporary workers,” the Auditor General’s Office said. “The stadium experienced a surge in its workforce, employing a total of 100 temporary staff, who were assigned tasks unrelated to the Games.

“In December 2022, all temporary personnel were released from their duties with only approximately 60 percent of them being reinstated. Expenditure escalated from $400,000 to $1.069m during September 2022 through April 2023.”

Meanwhile, the LOC also hosted a Gospel concert “unrelated to CARIFTA” that incurred a loss equal to 35 percent of expenditure. “A thorough examination of the allocated budget revealed an absence of any allocation for a Gospel concert, which bore no relevance for the CARIFTA games,” the Auditor General’s Office wrote.

“An estimated sum of $140,000 was used for hotel arrangements, transportation, band and production. At the end of the concert, the LOC recognised a mere profit of $4,000, signifying a substantial loss amounting to $136,000 or 35 percent of the total expenditure.”

The Auditor General’s Office also noted that the LOC incurred a $50,641 net loss on CARIFTA merchandise acquired for $104,699 after sales. Some $17,000 in merchandise still remained in inventory. “The LOC is advised to adjust future merchandise procurement estimates in light of the net loss incurred from this event,” the report added.

“Budgetary allocation for merchandise sales should mitigate potential losses for similar events.”

Comments

ThisIsOurs 1 month ago

"100 temporary staff hired by the CARIFTA Games Company Ltd, which was incorporated to organise the championships, were “assigned tasks unrelated to” the event, the report also detailed how $136,000 was lost on a Gospel concert that “bore no relevance” to track and field"

These are common and under analyzed feeding grounds for corruption.

The best way to commit fraud is to attach your money skimming activity to an initiative that has a "Good" cause. Who can argue with spending more than expected on feeding hungry children or supporting our athletes? But nobody in govt recognizes the damage from the mismanagement, who will trust you with a bunch of money even for a good cause again?

Secondly this thing about giving out jobs on slack needs to stop. Yes people need to work, but who determines who gets to work? Are only the minister or ruling party's constituents eligible? Who determines that those with greatest need received? Or was it those with the best relationships? Who determines that the individual did "something" and it wasnt just a freebie to buy goodwill for the next election? Who determines that it wasnt fraud? Could a worker have taken half of the pay for doing nothing and handed back half as a thank you?

None of these are alledged, the point is the loose nature of these continuous Cracker Jack prize contracts by both parties opens the door for all of these aberrations to happen. Then the MP gets up in parliament and says why y'all coming down on me, this what we is do. You have to wonder would if they do the same with their own money. Hire double the people to clean their house and hard and be incapable of saying who did what or if the grass cut.

Finally the prostitution of religion has to stop as well. We dont need to subsidize gospel concerts all over the place because the minister likes gospel. Theyve never proven to bring in any tourist traffic or turn a profit

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rosiepi 1 month ago

So we’re getting news of fairly small increments of fraud that were fairly predictable given the present administration, what we want to know is where did they stash the $millions upon $millions of money absconded from the Bahamian people??

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ThisIsOurs 1 month ago

The auditor didnt allege fraud. My viewpoint, actually any reasonable person's viewpoint, is that the repeated padding of contracts and random hiring practices by both administrations remember Shenandon Cartwright, everybody does this? They are a fertile breeding ground for fraud

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