Management of the National Carnival in St. Kitts and Nevis has never been an easy task, at any time in its 40 year history. No matter who has served on the committee or as the Minister responsible for the annual festival, criticism has always been a feature, just as any other event associated with the cultural celebration.
Just as one can be assured of controversy over who should have won Road March, the Calypso Finals or Queen Pageant, there has always been the certainty of bacchanal over the payment of monies. Carnival 2011/12 was no different.
And so for last year’s event, the focus of criticism has found its spotlight on the recent resignation of the first female chairperson, Shannon Hawley and the non payment of fees.
However, Carnival Minister, Ms. Marcella Liburd, earlier this week, made it clear during an interview on local radio that all fees for winning contestants, calypsonians, troupes, and others, have been fully paid, albeit late, in some instances. No matter what show, all the monies have been paid stated Liburd, including the calypsonian Socrates, who was recently on radio complaining that fees for his band were outstanding.
What Liburd did admit however, was that the committee currently owes a number of service providers but not calypsonians, or contestants of the various shows. The folklore groups too have been paid said Liburd.
During the course of this week though, rumours were circulating that a number of the musical bands have not received payments. Liburd admitted that that is so, but payment is being worked on.
Liburd assured those who have not been paid, that they will shortly receive the monies as they are working tirelessly to get them for this month, (April).
She explained that her ministry has to work with the Ministry of Finance, who actually makes the payments. “You have to understand a number of things. It is tax payer’s money and so we have to account for it. We cannot … go down to the Ministry of Finance and say here is this invoice. We ourselves are running around to get invoices from people who are service providers. The thing is we have to get all the invoices presented to the Ministry of Finance.”
“We in the committee are very happy with the work that the person in charge with finances is doing, Ms. Carroll Boddie, who is a certified accountant. She makes sure they are done based on the ethics of the accounting profession and she is ensuring that under the Carnival Act they are audited and they will be laid in parliament as they should be.”
She went on to say that some of these monies that are outstanding, can be categorized as imponderables.
“For example, take the 40:40 Carnival it is the first carnival that I know of, where we are paying for all the (calypso) tents, including the transportation to and from; the band and the persons who sing in the tents. In previous years only those who made it to the semi-finals and finals were paid, but last year everyone was rewarded and this is something that was not foreseen.”
“This is the first year we are paying these people and this is a result of the tent leaders. The tents were organised on a private basis we stepped in and tried to keep up the carnival spirit … as you saw some of the tents were free to the public because we proposed to inject the money in there in terms of helping with transportation, music and helping those singing in the tents; again not something that we anticipated to be doing,” explained the minister.
To get the bands on the road, the carnival committee had to undertake everything, giving money to the people for troupes; and paying the bands on the road for the parade.
Liburd said that the children’s carnival is a total investment by the carnival committee, as there is no sponsor, but it is an event the Ministry feels has to take place.
Liburd then further gave a snapshot of what the profit and loss looks like from last carnival, to give an idea of what they are contending with.
“For calypso, LIME was the sponsor, and the sponsorship monies for this year were down, less than last year because of the economic situation.” Companies complained that because of the poor state of the economy, they were forced to cut their budgets for sponsorship.
“There was $54,000 from LIME. We ran a bar one night and it made $5,846.69. The ticket sales for the calypso show was $94,769.39 and for the semi-finals $ 6,529.19, “said Liburd.
There was a gross income for the Senior Calypso Competition of a $161,145.27. The expenditure was $265,084.54; therefore a grand loss of EC$103,939.27.
The female calypso show made $2,945.36 at the gate while expenditure was $51,108.56, including the prize money for the winners. This was a loss of EC$48,163.20.
The Soca Monarch raised $36,600 in sponsorship while ticket sales were $22,759.50 which gave you a total of $59,359.50, for income and expenditure of $147,242.53…a loss of EC$87,883.03.
Liburd said her team believes it is still necessary to have these shows, despite the losses financially and they are trying their best to see if they can make them financially viable. The committee is contemplating out-sourcing some of the shows, in order to reduce the financial strains.
The total income for the entire carnival, outlined Minister Liburd, was EC$741,142.71. Included in this were National Carnival Queen Show receipts of EC$83,777.00.
She added that the total carnival expenditure was EC$1,229,580.52. The overall financial loss was therefore EC$448,437,80.
Once the figures are audited assured Liburd, they will be made available to the public.