Chairman of the Committee Kafra Kambon said it was better not to accept the $1 million cheque from the Arts and Multiculturalism Ministry in the absence of a commitment from Government for additional funding.
“We could not accept it,” he said, “without a firm commitment on what the total contribution would be.” Kambon, at a press conference at the Emancipation Village, Queen’s Park Savannah yesterday, said that all the committee had were, “verbal promises that are not quantified.”
In order to avoid a similar situation as occurred last year, he said the committee sent a budget of $4 million to Government, which has been its main sponsor over the years, to support its activities. The total expenses, he said will run to between $6.5 and $7 million.
The committee, he said, could not take $1 million because, “you can’t even properly put down infrastructure for the (Emancipation) village with that amount. How do you conduct the other activities of the Emancipation festival, people would ask what has the Emancipation Support Committee done with the money.”
“It was better for us not to take a cent from the Government than to take money that can really not get us anywhere,” he said. If funding does not come through from Government, Kambon said, “we are going to go all out to those who are in support of Emancipation. We will succeed. In case we don’t, some of us will go to jail.”
At the blessing of the ground on Sunday, Kambon said he did not doubt the sincerity of Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Dr Lincoln Douglas who said he would do all he could to see what allocation he could muster. “And this is where the problem lies. There is no budgeted allocation.”
Promises made last year by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and then Arts Minister Winston “Gypsy” Peters to correct the problem of funding on festivals, Kambon said, did not materialise.
At a press conference on July 19, 2011 Kambon called on Government to make Emancipation activities a line item in the ministry’s budget.The committee had been given $2 million the previous year (2010).
On July 21, 2011 Peters announced at a post-Cabinet press briefing that the sum of $1 million would be given to the committee and this was subsequently increased to $2 million. Persad- Bissessar had apologised for the delay and offered $500,000 more to assist with transportation and tent rental expenses.
She also promised that such a situation would not recur this year under her Government.
In recent times, Kambon claimed, the committee has been treated badly by Government in terms of obtaining funding for various activities.
Asked about private sector sponsorship and seeking to make the committee more self-sufficient and even a profitable entity, Kambon said while the committee would like to make a profit on its events, it is a non-governmental organisation and its main activities are a programme of development, “consistent with what our ancestors fought for.”
He said the committee does not get support from the private sector because of its determination to ensure it remains a consciousness raising entity. “We are not going to compromise that,” he said, “for the sake of money.”