ICC May Drop Sri Lanka Tourism
- USD 12 Million T-20 World Cup Promotion At Risk
- Bureaucratic Bungling At Ministry of Economic Development
- ICC tries to stop story by contacting ‘Sunday Leader’ Chairman
By Faraz Shauketaly
A USD 12 Million advertising and promotion budget of the International Cricket Council (ICC) may be at risk thanks to bureaucratic bungling by the Ministry of Economic Development. Sri Lanka will host the World Cup T-20 cricket tournament starting in the third week of September.
In a communication to Rumi Jaufer the Managing Director of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) Upeka Nell, the Programme Director of the ICC World T-20, warns the SLTPB that the entire programme is at risk because of a failure to formally sign the MOU with the ICC. The delay in signing the agreement appears to have come from the Ministry of Economic Development – the line Ministry for Tourism – after it was routinely asked to approve the ICC proposal.
Rumi Jaufer said that as the MOU was with an international organization and because of the very nature of the proposal and its profile, the SLTPB routinely asked for the Ministry’s comments and observations. Jaufer denied that there was a delay on the part of the Director General in charge of Tourism at the Ministry, Sunil Hettiarachchi. The facts are however that having been asked by the SLTPB for its observations, the Director General appointed a committee to look into the proposal. It took the committee over a month to announce that it did not have sufficient information to properly evaluate the proposal. The proposal was essentially one for marketing in nature and in time honoured style a former Director General of Wild Life was appointed Chairman of the committee. Sources at Sri Lanka Tourism pointed out that Mr Wijesooriya, being excellent at his job at Wildlife was ‘out of his depth’ when it came to evaluating a marketing proposal.
In May Upeka Nell informed Rumy Jaufer that the ICC will pull out of the exercise unless the contract was signed immediately. She cited amongst other reasons that the production of promotional material could not be held back any longer as it was being produced in Germany and that inter-alia there were timelines that were critical. She wrote in no uncertain terms to Rumy Jaufer, in Fenruary “please confirm whether you would like to go ahead or not …. I have become a complete liar to the ICC of all the dates that I have indicated to them of confirming this deal BASED on your commitments and it is my credibility (that) is at stake”
Upekha Nell appears to have been led round the garden path by the hapless officials at SLTPB who clearly were unable to sign the MOU as Sunil Hettiarachchi and his officials were not ready to approve of what they perceived to be plans originating from Rumy Jaufer. Indeed, Upeka Nell was to tell the ICC in an e-mail addressed to other colleagues that she can “assure you that the Ministry will not sign off anything that comes from Mr Jaufer”. For emphasis Nell underlines her comment in her “Dear All” e-mail. It appears that shel did not ask for any assistance from Sri Lanka Cricket when she came up with the stone wall of delays from the SLTPB.
To her credit the tournament director warns her colleagues that SLTPB that it was not in anyone’s interest to present ‘conflicting proposals’ referring to the many changes that had been made from the original proposal. She also informed the ICC that “they” (SLTPB) were only “keen to enter into a MOU and not a tight commercial partner’s agreement that is being given to them”. Despite all her apparent confidence Upeka Nell was not forthcoming when the Sunday Leader contacted her asking for the present status of the agreement. She initially denied any knowledge only to relent and said “all I can say is that discussions are still underway. That is all I can say. Please respect that.” Just before going into print The tournament director of the ICC Uppekha Nell had the audacity of phoning back to say that she had spoken with the Chairman of Leader Publications – owners of the Sunday Leader. For the ICC to pull strings to stop a story is the height of double standards. If this is how the ICC managers try to ‘fix’ a story how can it ask for ICC member states to have elected officials and cricketers not to ‘fix’ matches.
It is surprising that the ICC does not understand that the Board of Leader Publications and the Editorial of The Sunday Leader is separate and distinctly so.
Despite many efforts to reach Sunil Hettiarachchci for his comments his telephone went unanswered and consequently we are unable to carry his version of events. A highly placed source close to the Ministry of Economic Development speaking on conditions of anonymity said that once again red tape and bureaucratic interference was preventing officials from carrying out their work within critical timelines. The same source pointed out that the same fate has befallen the much talked about IIFA event in Sri Lanka as being in the same category even though the Cabinet of Ministers had granted their approval having already taken note of the short timeline. The IIFA event is now more remembered for its unpaid bills and questions from the parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) than for the fame and positivity it was supposed to bring Sri Lanka.