MINISTER of Finance and the Public Service Audley Shaw yesterday assured the racing fraternity of a smooth transfer of ownership of the Caymanas Park racing assets to Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL).
“It is anticipated that we will have a smooth transfer,” Shaw told yesterday’s official signing ceremony for the transfer of the assets from the Government-owned Caymanas Track Limited (CTL) to SVL, which will now assume the name Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited.
Shaw said that the official date for the takeover of the assets by the private company is March 7, and it is expected that in the course of the transition racing will not be affected,
He said he has been assured by CTL’s CEO Shane Dalling that everything at the race track will be rigorously managed to ensure that there is a smooth transition.
“I mean rigorously managed and he knows what I am talking about. And all the stakeholders know what I am talking about. So the word rigorous, I stress, and we will not be missing any race days. There will be a serious and smooth transfer to new ownership under a rigorous transition programme,” Shaw insisted.
He said that there would be no “free for all”, but an orderly, disciplined and effective management going into the new ownership.
“That is the plan and those are my specific instructions,” he added.
In reference to the redundancy package for the workers, which should take effect on March 6, Dalling said that the package would cost the company $200 million.
He explained that CTL would distribute severance cheques to all staff on March 6, covering all their entitlements up to that date.
He also noted that a substantial portion of the funding was already allocated in the national budget.
Shaw said that the workers should be contented with their severance payments, and no doubt be ready and available for employment, if needed, by the new owners.
Dalling said that the Off-Track Betting operations will be assigned to the new owners as of March 7. But CTL will continue beyond that date to deal with outstanding matters, or legacy operations, including court issues and debts.
The privatisation of CTL comes after at least five attempts by the Government since 1987 sell the operations, the ministry said.
Over the last three years, the regulatory body, the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC), has been faced with critical cash flow issues, as a result of non-payment of levies by CTL. In August 2016, the outstanding amounts reached record levels of approximately $110 million. This consequently affected the JRC’s ability to assist with industry development projects.
SVL’s takeover is expected to allow for a positive annual cash flow of approximately $42 million to the operations of the JRC. This will not only be used for regulation, but in particular, towards development projects.
The finance ministry said that the benefits of the divestment include: payment of gross profit tax into the Consolidated Fund, it is currently two per cent of gross profits; contribution to the Betting, Gaming and Lottery Commission (BGLC), currently one per cent of gross profits; and contribution to the JRC, which is currently at four per cent of gross profits.
SVL plans to include the diversification of betting channels, gaming offerings as well as other entertainment products which will attract a larger customer base of locals and tourists, as well as Jamaicans in the diaspora, to Caymanas Park.
This is not only expected to expand the tourism products offered to visitors, but also introduce new customers to horseracing.
Also speaking at the function were Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service Fayval Williams and CTL’s board chairman Danville Walker.