Service providers need to be reasonable – festivals minister

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“It cannot be fair, right or reasonable that the government invests significant funds into our festival through waiver of duties and so forth and on the back end you get faced with threats and ultimatums and so forth for payment. It’s just not right,” Matthew stated.
The minister was responding to a question given to him by host Daren Matthew-Ward about international artists being paid in full while local artists and service providers being owed significant amounts of money for years and then threatening to pull their service during the carnival celebrations if they are not paid.
Specific mention was made about a video that went viral in which an alleged member of Stone Wall International, was heard threatening to take down their sound system from the stage if they were not paid the monies owed to them by the government.
Matthew referred to the video as “an unfortunate display”. He admitted that he did not want to say much about that particular situation except that to the best of his knowledge, arrears owed to the service provider dating back to 2015, 2016 and 2017 would have been cleared. He said the company was demanding money for this year’s service even though the carnival was ongoing.
He also confessed that this was an additional expense that the festivals commission did not expect to service at that particular time nor in that manner but they did what they had to do under the circumstances.
He said that he believes that if a person works then they should be paid but what bothered him is that some of the very same service providers who threatened to pull their services were awarded duty free concessions by the minister of finance just weeks ago so that they could bring their equipment into the country. He said that the service providers even got the revenue recovery charge waived and then rented the same equipment to the government for carnival, yet threatened to withdraw their services for non-payment even as the Carnival festivities were not yet over.
The culture minister also pointed out that on a nightly basis he receives calls, emails and messages from service providers threatening to pull their services if they are not remunerated immediately or given some kind of assurance.
He stated that it seems as if service providers do not correlate the waiver they receive at the port with the government’s inability to pay them just a few weeks after. He reminded service providers that there is a cost associated with the waivers they receive and he said that a conversation needs to be had with the relevant stakeholders.
The festivals minister concluded by reminding stakeholders of the enormous amount of economic activity generated by carnival each year. He said that taxi drivers, mas troupes, hotel owners and employees, guest houses, retailers in the city and airlines are just a few of the people who benefit greatly during the carnival season while the largest contributor, the government, does not make back its initial investment.

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