chamber expects the post-mortem on Carnival 2008 by the
National Carnival Commission (NCC), the Ministry of Culture
and Gender Affairs and all relevant stakeholders will take
place in the very near future. There has been quite a lot
of discussion this season about setting fixed dates on the
national calendar for Carnival, instead of letting it fall
on the two days preceding Ash Wednesday.
The chamber has seen in the media a number of cogent arguments
both for and against. While the private sector will always
favour a fixed, determinable time-frame for the supply of
goods and services, it nevertheless needs to hear the other
side in this matter.
Our information is that on Carnival Tuesday, despite the
return of the parade to the street, some bands lined up
in the tributaries off the Queens Park Savannah for
more than three hours. Vendors along the southern side of
the Savannah complained bitterly about the late delivery
of booths to them and the consequent loss in revenue.
Cro Cro protested to Trinbago United Calypsonians Organisation
(Tuco) about the panel of judges for the Calypso Monarch
competition; some of whom were trained by Chalkdust, with
Chalkdust appearing as a contestant. Controversy developed
between Pan Trinbago and the NCC over whether or not the
facilities in the Savannah were ready in time for the start
of the Panorama preliminaries.
These things must be corrected once and for all.
In the chambers opinion, if the national festival
is to continue to maintain its attraction, a permanent home
has to be found for it. The chamber expects that all relevant
stakeholders are being consulted to make their valuable
and constructive suggestions for its appropriate design
The chamber is indeed encouraged by the report in the newspapers
of February 25 in which the Minister of Culture and Gender
Affairs is reported as stating that construction of the
new Carnival and Entertainment Centre will commence later
this year to be competed, hopefully, by 2010. The chamber,
of course, expects that the procurement process will be
fair and on a level playing field for all to engage and
that appropriate monitoring controls will be put in place
to ensure that it is completed within budget and on time.
Insofar as the administration of the festival is concerned,
the leadership of the NCC and functioning of its commissioners
seems to have settled down under chairman Keston Nancoo.
The Government should have as little an active role as possible
in the work of the commission, except to inject money for
the goods and services it wishes to promote through non-profit
centres. For example, if Government wishes free admission
and refreshment for the entire public service it must pay
the NCC to do that.
Similarly, if it wants a parade of bands staged at Blanchisseuse
it must foot the bill for same. In other words, the NCC
must be allowed to do its job and operate with full accountability
and transparency. The NCC must be totally independent of
the Treasury and of political influence.
The chamber sees the future role of the Government with
a full-time NCC functioning and achieving such objectives.
The Government must be a facilitator and a facilitator only.
It must concern itself with the future of Carnival, the
role of youth and appropriate infrastructure. Junior Carnival,
interestingly, remains a manifestation of the past and,
as such, the Government must encourage and promote its beauty,
creativity, art and industry as part of nation building,
ensuring that the positives of the festival and the aspirations
of each generation are fostered by way of addressing the
challenges of indiscipline and lawless behaviour in our
schools, so that Carnival may not be disguised for such
practices and become an opportunity for crime.
The future realisation of the industry demands that the
Tourism Development Company as well as the Entertainment
Company take their rightful place in facilitating the objectives
of NCC in terms of joint marketing initiatives in our airline,
tourist and entertainment sectors, opening the doors of
opportunity for calypso, pan and costumed bands in traditional
markets and protecting the intellectual property of our
artistes, designers, inventors and craftsmen. They must,
in conjunction with the new NCC shape the Carnival
product for sale in these markets and maximise the revenues
Do some homework on the Olympics, every major golfing event,
the Miss Universe and Miss World contests, the World Cup
and international cricket. Our Carnival has to be packaged
to compete with such world events in the marketplace of
mass communications. A certain degree of production and
broadcast experience is necessary and is not beyond the
reach of our stakeholders in the success of Carnival. Our
people do not wish to look upon it as a commodity, but,
to the world at large it is a product. A Carnival product
and a very viable one at that.
The Minister of Finance has to encourage added value for
the millions of dollars in subvention to stage Carnival.
In the Chambers view, the time is now right to consider
the parlaying of our unique creativity into a dynamic and
viable industry or sector by way of incentives in the 2008/2009
budget which would awaken the entire commercial sector.
In particular, the deduction of 150 per cent of expenses
up to a maximum of $450,000, should not be limited to the
broadcast of local cultural, educational and entertainment
productions to local, regional and international audiences.
It should be expanded to include, for example, raw material
for the manufacture of costumes, the making of steel pans
and anything that is essential for the preservation of the
national instrument and its promotion as well as for calypso
and development of the artform.
Of course, the incentives must be linked to the Carnival
industry, employment and the final product, in order to
avoid any misuse or abuse and achieve the objective of the
The chamber detects that there is boredom being generated
by bandleaders who produce beads and bikinis each year.
Some of them have complained about the high cost of production
of everything else and had to resort to China and the Middle
East for better quality and more timely product.
The NCC needs to do some homework in this area in the interest
of ensuring the continued existence of an indigenous artform,
attractive enough to successfully compete with Brazil and
the other regional and international Carnivals, the number
of which continually increase. The National Carnival Bands
Association must alter its categories and prize money appropriately,
instead of appearing to do so via incentives which cannot
be logically and transparently explained to other stakeholders
in the industry.
We must remember that Carnival is a contributor of more
than US$50 million to the national economy; and this without
really trying. It promotes the country. It is a stimulus
to the hotel, food and beverage sectors and provides employment
for many of the unskilled and non-conventionally skilled
persons who may be tempted to resort to crime.
It is an excellent training ground for some form of permanent
employment and eventual graduation from the ranks of the
unemployed to the employable, despite the present low unemployment
rate. It should not continue like a hobby, a pastime or
part time occupation that begins on Boxing Day and ends
on Ash Wednesday each year. The opportunities are indeed
deduction of 150 per cent of expenses up to a maximum of
expanded to include, for
example, raw material for
the manufacture of
costumes, the making of steel pans and anything
that is essential for
the preservation of
the national instrument
and its promotion as well
as for calypso and
development of the artform.