LAHORE: Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) belated decision to make additional two-month ex-gratia payment to its curators by Dec 19 in addition to the two-month contract which has already expired on Oct 19, is bound to create confusion as many curators have already left the job due to the uncertainty about their future after the Board, under its new constitution implemented on Aug 19, disaffiliated the 16 regional cricket associations and did not release the salaries of their groundsmen and office-staff.
It may be mentioned here that later when media pointed out the sad fate of the affected staff, the PCB awarded them just two months contract till Oct 19 with the claim that it will take a further decision after considering a proper process. But there are reports that on Nov 11, many regional bodies relieved majority of the staff due to lack of resources at their disposal.
But now, the PCB has suddenly taken a decision of extending the contract for two months till Dec 31st when most of the staff is not working on these grounds.
Overall, 243 ground staff were working with 16 regional cricket associations and major portion of their monthly salaries was being paid by the PCB, directly.
Several curators have left jobs due to prevailing uncertainty
Meanwhile, the PCB while making the announcement of two months extension, also raised doubts of corrupt practices in that previous policy of hiring the ground staff. However, it did not show any intent if it will take any step against the people responsible.
“The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had awarded two-month contracts to curators who were previously employed by the 16 regions until August 19, 2019. Through an extension to that arrangement, the PCB has decided that it will make an additional two-month ex-gratia payment to these curators i.e. until 19 December 2019, following which the ground owners themselves will make a decision pertaining to their future employment at the respective grounds,” the PCB states.
“In this relation, the PCB has already contacted most of the curators to inform them of the decision and their payments are expected to be transferred into their bank accounts very soon.
In 2010, the PCB had decided to pay the curators directly on behalf of the regions after it had received complaints of either delayed or reduced payments.
“Meanwhile, a study carried out by the PCB Domestic Cricket Operations Department on the state and condition of the 63 grounds - which were either developed or facilitated by PCB - has revealed staggering mismanagement and misuse of valuable funds, resulting in deplorable conditions of the grounds.
“The audit exercise has further revealed that as many as 27 grounds were not fit to host any level of cricket matches while barring a few, the remaining 36 grounds are also not up to the required standard to stage PCB-organised matches.
“Similarly, at a number of grounds, matches have not been held in the last few years while the investigations have also unearth cases of ghost employees.
“Over the past five years, the PCB had provided funding of over PKR 317million to the 16 regions to manage these 63 grounds in terms of equipment, repairs and administrative expenses
“The following is the breakdown of funding provided to the 16 regions: Office Staff (2014-2019) — PKR34,780,911; Ground staff (2014-2019) — PKR221,546,514; Equipment/maintenance (2015-2019) — PKR36,264,019; Office running expenses (2015-2019) — PKR24,760,076; Total cost — PKR317,350,620.
“As the 16 regions have ceased to exist following the promulgation of the new PCB Constitution on 19 August 2019, the PCB has decided it will no longer provide financial support for ground-related expenses.
Interestingly, the PCB has the claim that it will hand over all these grounds to newly formed six provincial cricket associations to run the affairs in future. The fact is that these grounds are not the property of the PCB, so how it can hand over these to anyone else remains to be seen.
“The PCB has also decided these grounds will be handed over to the six cricket associations who will be required to develop, maintain, manage and use them as ‘home’ venues in their respective jurisdictions.
“In the meantime, the PCB advises all cricket ground owners (or those having legal rights in relation thereto) to approach the PCB directly for any assistance in terms of providing support through the provision of relevant equipment and/or grants for engaging ground staff,” it concluded.
Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2019