Thursday 7th April, 2005


I can’t fire Afong - de Silva

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By Yvonne Webb

Chairman of the National Carnival Commission (NCC) Kenny de Silva, has no power to either hire or fire any member of the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) board.

As a result, he said yesterday he could not take any action against NCBA chairman Richard Afong, as the National Carnival Development Foundation (NCDF) and former members of the Tobago NCBA arm have suggested.

The NCDF, in calling on the NCC to discipline Afong, also criticised de Silva’s “silence” on the issue of a $40,000-loan made to Afong to make an out-of-court settlement to Lord Relator (Willard Harris).

“I wrote to the Minister of Culture Joan Yuille-Williams on the Afong situation, and I expect a board view on the situation, and that is as far as I can go,” de Silva said.

“I cannot discipline staff; I can only make recommendations based on the situation. There has to be due process.”

De Silva also said he did not know the intimate details of the loan arrangement between Afong and the NCBA.

“In terms of Mr Willard Harris (Lord Relator), that matter involved litigation. The NCC wrote to Mr Harris apologising for that incident,” de Silva said.

“One must also bear in mind that Mr Harris was a guest of the NCBA (when the incident occurred).

“And while I am not advocating any level of violence, Mr Harris was employed by the NCC and Mr Afong was a part of NCC, so if there was any semblance of insulting a member of the board that, too, was also incorrect.”

He said the NCC was not responsible for appointing members to the board.

That appointment, enacted by an Act of Parliament, was taken at a much higher level, he said.

“The chairman has no power to hire or fire board members. That is outside the purview of the NCC and chairman.”

De Silva said while the NCDF, which they recognised as a serious organisation, had contributed significantly to Carnival, “they are not on the board.”

He added: “In terms of people resigning and joining other organisations, we can’t legislate on that,” he said, in reference to the defection of bandleaders from the Tobago arm of the NCBA and their joining the NCDF.

“We have to see what transpires and the organisation most representative of mas will be on the NCC.

“As it stands, the NCBA is the legitimate representative on the NCC board until otherwise advised.”

©2004-2005 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

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