Come on Colm Imbert! Do your homework. You mean you did not know that Southex got $1.5 million from the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) on January 5, 2017 for the staging of the Chutney Soca Monarch competition.
It shows the Minister of Finance has not done a due diligence on this event, the same way the Chief Justice did not to a due diligence on Marcia Ayers-Caesar before her appointment as a High Court Judge.
Is it true after the Ministry of Finance blanked Southex of any funding, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley got involved and directed Imbert to give the promoters sponsorship?
Is it true that George Singh’s close relationship with Attorney General Faris Al Rawi caused a flip flop in sponsorship?
With egg on his face, Imbert had to host a press conference late on Thursday to announce sponsorship.
Imbert said statements that his ministry had withdrawn funding were incorrect and he wanted to clear up all misconceptions in relation to the funding by state agency, the NLCB.
He said there was a mix-up of numbers which led to the ministry offering the organizers $300,000 on Wednesday.
Imbert added, “We were told that last year the NLCB gave the competition a donation of $500,000.” He said due to the economic situation, Government decided to reduce the figure to $300,000.
On Thursday, the ministry was informed that the actual figure donated last year was $1.5 million and so decided to revise the offered donation to $1 million.
He said the NLCB was in between boards and so the acting executive director could not give financial approvals above a $50,000 limit. He said the director approached the ministry on Wednesday for clearance for a donation for the competition, and reports that the ministry had given any directive to completely withdraw funding were inaccurate.
But George Singh disputed Imbert’s claim that a $300,000 donation had been offered saying the amount was in fact zero. So how come Imbert keep saying $300,000 was offered?
On Thursday morning, Singh announced that the Chutney Soca Monarch 2018 competition had been cancelled.
Singh said the cancellation was prompted after an urgent meeting with the NLCB on Wednesday.
Singh added, “Whilst there I was greeted by the CEO and informed that there was a change, a change to which he was awaiting a final decision on. Within a few minutes, a phone call was received by the CEO and taken outside of the said meeting.
“A few minutes later the CEO re-entered the room to which he stated that there was an email confirmation and directive by the Ministry of Finance that the Chutney Soca Monarch was no longer to be the recipient of any funding whatsoever.
“We do get some support from different entities but no cash, the only cash support really came from the National Lotteries Control Board, and that has been so for the last few years.”
In 2017, the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs allocated the sum of $1,180,000 to the competition. In 2016, prize money was cut from $4.5 million to $3.5 million.
After all the chutney bacchanal, Singh announced on Friday morning that the show will be back on. He said the show will be scaled down because of the reduced funding. He could not say if the finals will be held at Skinner Park, San Fernando, as that venue is an expensive one.
The NLCB cheque for $1.5 million presented on January 5, 2017.