Arnold pulled no punches during a press conference called yesterday at Pan Trinbago’s head office, Victoria Park Suites, Port-of-Spain to deal with matters arising out of an Emergency Extra Ordinary General Meeting held on Sunday at the Scherzando Panyard in Curepe.
“We have not yet met with the Minister with respect to Carnival 2009. Since a meeting that they (the Ministry) held with all stakeholders for a review of Carnival 2008, at the Hyatt in March, Minister Mc Donald said she would carry all interest groups on a retreat individually, to get from them where they’re at...but this hasn’t taken place,” Arnold said.
He added that funds promised to Pan Trinbago by the Ministry for appearance fees for 2008 have not been paid. He stated the Ministry knew they couldn’t generate funds due to the knocking down of the North and Grand Stands.
“It hasn’t been done this year and we can’t talk to anybody, we can’t get to the Minister, we can’t get to the chairman of the NCC (National Carnival Commission) because there is no chairman, no CEO, nothing!”
Arnold said the Ministry has left Pan Trinbago in a situation where they can’t function because everything they do, even music festival funding, has to go through the NCC. And the NCC board was disbanded on March 31.
At a post Cabinet conference recently, Minister Mc Donald promised to name a new Board but to date that has not been done. “That is a serious issue and I can’t understand why you know the Board’s term was coming to an end on March 31, and you didn’t put things in place. I’ve been on the Board since 1997 as Pan Trinbago’s representative and this is the first time that has ever happened,” Arnold said.
Outstanding money for Carnival 2008 is approximately $3 million. Also, Pan Trinbago’s Carnival 2009 and Pan Is Beautiful XI (October 2008) proposal to the Culture Ministry, which was submitted since April, is yet to be discussed. This proposal, he said, amounts to some $33 million and includes Pan Trinbago’s year round activities.
The last NCC Chairman, Keston Nancoo, was reportedly not asked to return but was unable to comment on the situation as he was on sick leave yesterday. Reports that former NCC chairman Kenny de Silva was tipped to return have been denied. Regarding the Pan Trinbago headquarters in Trincity, work has once again stopped. “The Chinese built a place to sleep but they have abandoned that. So I don’t know what’s happening. The last time I went up there I met a watchman and a dog and no work was being done,” Arnold complained.
Speaking on the National Steel Symphony, Arnold said, “We had nothing to do with it. There was no consultation or representation...in fact we weren’t invited to the launch. Pan Trinbago is no longer relevant, I believe in their (the Ministry’s) thinking and they are just going ahead and doing what they want to do.”
“But panmen have decided not to put up with this anymore. Panmen are ready to rumble.”
Another issue that is irking panmen is the Copyright Amendment Bill which was recently passed but is now left up to Government to sign the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Treaty, so local musicians and entertainers can receive copyright monies from overseas.
Several attempts by Newsday to reach Minister Mc Donald for a response to Arnold’s claims yesterday proved futile.