As far as I know there has already been a prize-giving ceremony and many winners and participants have been rewarded for their work. However, it has now come down to the bands, those engines that made the whole thing run; they have not yet been paid and one quivers at the thought that the discomforts experienced last year are getting set to be repeated.
I recall that deep into last year, the minister with responsibility for carnival, in making a statement in Parliament, mentioned that the monies had eventually been paid but that those who received it had not been as vocal as they had been when the money was not forthcoming. I found that to have been an unfortunate comment because, for decades, the authorities were the ones who made the handing over of monies, events for the media.
What was most telling was that the manager of the Legends Band, Sylvester “King Socrates” Hodge told one media house that he had been promise his remuneration “…by the end of January…”, which came and went but no one contacted him. In a sound bite that I listened to, Hodge explained: “I was told by one person that they have to pay salaries to government first…”. Bear in mind that the government workers to whom reference was made, worked during the month of January, 2011, whereas the situation at hand has to do with work that was done during carnival that started, in earnest, in December 2010, and ended in very early January 2011. It is obvious that while the system is in place for the payment of government workers, there is no plan in place for the people who made carnival happen.
The usual time for the annual budget address and debate, is December. This time around, it happened on the 14th, in the midst of carnival festivities. As I have done practically every year for the last few years, I scrutinized the budged address for words like “carnival”, “music” and “festival”, and in a document of 58 double-spaced pages, neither word was mentioned even once. As a matter of fact, you can check the document for yourself, at: http://www.cuopm.com/pdf/Budget_Addresses/2011_Budget_Address_20101214.pdf. It is a PDF document so, if you do not already have Adobe Reader, you will need to download it. Once you have it up and running, conduct a search of any of the words I mentioned.
The point here is that, the budget address is presented smack, dab in the middle of carnival, a major activity in the nation’s annual calendar, but there is absolutely no mention of it. It either costs or benefits the government significantly, but that is not significant enough to warrant some mention.
participants…”. If that would have been the case, then the organizers must have known where that money was coming from. So too must they have taken into account the fact that the bands would have to be paid.
No one debates the fact that nothing during carnival takes place without the all-important component of music, whether it is recorded or live; ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Even before the official start, there would have been calypso tents. Then there are eliminations, semi finals and finals, neither of which has heretofore happened without the presence of a live band. Junior Kaiso Competition, Female Bacchanal, Best of the Rest, King A De Tent, Queen Show, Street Jamming etc., all happen to the strains of live music.
If the musical component is that important, how then does it take the authorities so long to come up with the money to pay these guys? How is it that there is a developing pattern in which government makes excuses for its inability – or refusal, as the case may be – to shell out a few thousand dollars in fulfillment of contracts? How can there already be advertisement for the upcoming carnival (2011/12) hitting the internet when the Committee’s obligations stemming form the last one are yet to be made good? And just in case there is any doubt that advertisement is already out there, this link proves it: http://www.facebook.com/SKNCarnival. The committee has already started the process of promoting the 40th anniversary of carnival while still owing the bands for their work in the 39th which ended just over a month ago.
This treatment transcends shabby. It is akin to the way in which people have traditionally treated the plumber. He is quite possibly the single most important person on a construction site but his work is not as valued as that of, say, the electrician. Anyone can live without electricity, as happens on a regular basis in St. Kitts. In fact, until the discovery of electricity, people lived without it. To date, however, no one has been able to live without water.
In its 40-year existence, carnival has not been able to exist without music, more so, the music as produced by live bands. It is time for the government to make adequate provision for the remuneration of the bands so that they can have the money for which they worked, in timely fashion.
Government has again become guilty of what is known in legal circles, as a tort, having breached its contracts. When a contract is breached, the aggrieved party can then ask a court to award financial compensation. In this case, the bands can request compensation over and above that which was agreed upon within their respective contracts.
This is another case in which incompetence can result in a greater burden upon the public purse, unnecessarily.