Government releases $83m to NCC

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell presents Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey-Moore with a grant during the distribution ceremony at the VIP Lounge, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on Thursday. – AYANNA KINSALE

THE Ministry of Finance approved the release of $83,861,683 million to the National Carnival Commission (NCC) on Thursday making it the first tranche of the commission’s $147 million subvention for Carnival 2023.

This release of funds comes on the heel of Carnival celebrations and complaints from regional bodies over a lack of funding.

On Tuesday night, San Fernando mayor Junia Regrello blamed money woes for the cancellation of the city’s planned king and queen of Carnival competition that night.

In response Winston “Gypsy” Peters, NCC chairman reportedly said, on Wednesday, that the NCC is yet to receive its promised subvention of $147 million from Government.

But Tourism and Culture Minister Randall Mitchell said the NCC only requested releases last week, and his ministry put it through to be processed by the Ministry of Finance.

In a press release on Thursday, the Culture Ministry addressed some of the funding concerns in the public domain.

It noted that on February 9, through several requests, the NCC received funding in the amount of about $17 million.

“By the end of Friday 10, February, 2023 the NCC made a request of $83 million which included, among others, transfers to Carnival bodies in the sum of $15.3 million, and grants to regional bodies of $6.173 million. This request was promptly submitted by the (Culture) Ministry to the Ministry of Finance whose officers have been working over the weekend to ensure that this request for funding was processed.”

The release added that, on Thursday, the Finance Ministry had approved the release of $83,861,683.00 to the NCC after further supporting documents were submitted earlier on this week.

“These funds are now available and, as instructed by the Ministry, will be disbursed with despatch, accordingly.”

The Culture Ministry said it had continued to work with the NCC since the passing of the budget last October to ensure that resources would be made available for the hosting of a successful Carnival this year.

“However, this is dependent on the timely application for funding under the NCC’s budgetary allocation.”

When contacted for a comment on Thursday night, Peters said, “I am extremely happy that we got the money. We have already written a lot of cheques for a lot of people. We were able to do that through different arrangements.

“Carnival has always been like this and Carnival will always be like this. There will always be last minute thing that has to be done in Carnival and with Carnival. As long as that is going to happen, we will try our best to do the best that we can. But, what I can assure you is, at the end of the day, its going to be done.”

Earlier on Thursday Mitchell distributed $1,852,500 to unsponsored steel bands and a further $3.2 million remittance payout to NCC for Panorama players and a further $1.565 million to cultural groups.

He told Newsday the money distributed in Thursday’s ceremony is separate from the $147 million allocation to the NCC.

At the grant distribution, 153 unsponsored steelbands received assistance –$15,000 for conventional and $7,500 for the single pans bands.

He further shared that Cabinet approved a $500 stipend per player to cover expenses they incurred while participating in Panorama.