Delay of carnival waivers frustrates festivals minister

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Minister of Culture and National Festivals E.P. ‘Chet’ Greene said he is disappointed with the failure of the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) and the Customs Division to implement electricity and customs waivers for registered groups in carnival. Greene said he is angry that “somebody fell asleep on the job”.
“I am very disappointed on this matter because this is one of the areas that I as minister responsible for festivities would have taken to Cabinet and secured a decision earlier than the norm,” said Greene, who said Cabinet had agreed to the waivers since March, 2017.
“To learn that even now they are having difficulties accessing the concessions and the subsidies because the services are not being recognised or connected it really is disheartening because we approved these things months ago,” Greene added.
The minister said he will be asking the relevant government agencies to enforce the Cabinet decision but also warned that some Mas Bands and other carnival stakeholders are to blame because they have not met the requirement of registering with the Inland Revenue Department.
Greene said mas troupes should not fear the registration requirement is an attempt to tax them but rather that their registration is meant to allow for better planning for Carnival.
He said some of the groups don’t understand the ministry’s intent, while he added there must be a record of the groups involved in Carnival to allow the government to plan properly for the festival.
The Mas Association wrote to the Antigua
& Barbuda Festivals Commission at the end of May to complain and register their “extreme disappointment” at the non-implementation of the duty and electricity waivers for all registered participants.
The Festivals Commission had written to the President of the Mas and Steel Band Associations to inform them of the decision on May 19. Greene said Festivals Commission Office Manager Natalie Clare White has now been tasked with following up with APUA and the Customs Division on the reasons for not implementing the Cabinet decision.

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