By Latrishka Thomas
Despite having a slighty lower budget for this year’s Carnival festivities, the Festivals Minister has given reassurance that monies owed will be paid out in short order.
The Minister with responsibility for Carnival, Daryll Matthew while in an interview on OBSERVER AM yesterday, said that the budget for carnival was around $4.8 million – a slight decrease from last year.
In this regard, he said that “[the government is] trying to find very good ways and clever ways to trim and chop the budget because as you are aware, Carnival comes at the time of year when revenues are at their lowest because of the tourist season not yet commencing and so it’s always a challenge to get all the funds we need. We have not received enough to get us through.”
Nevertheless, he said that they will be paying off their debts starting with prize monies owed for this year.
“The public would recognize that we paid some prize monies on stage. We have some others to pay over the next few days and once we are done with the prize monies then we would start dealing with the service providers. And so, in as much as there may be debts that have accrued over the past years, what we are trying to do is remain current, so let’s settle all the debts we have from 2019 and work our way backwards and that has proven to be somewhat successful. We have not covered anyone but the first set of stakeholders that we intend to sort out is the prize monies,” Matthew said.
Matthew acknowledged the arrears due to artistes and other stakeholders of Carnival saying “it’s not something that can be done in one fell swoop” and he deliberately did not provide a timeline within which monies can be expected, to avoid being bombarded with calls or messages at the end of the timeline, he imputed.
Prior to the beginning of the Caribbean’s Greatest summer festival of 2019, the 2018 13-19 Junior Calypso winner King Vicious and member bands of the Antigua and Barbuda Pan Association shared their frustration with having not received the monetary rewards owed to them for their work during Carnival 2018.
Though some received monies shortly after, many are still owed but the Minister responsible for Carnival said that the government does not intend to draw out the issue.
“Just know that we acknowledge it and we will do everything we can to ensure that this does not continue to be a longstanding vexation,” Matthew said.