Tobago bandleaders complain about new arrangement to access grants

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Ravi Lakhan of Antourage Productions portrayed Lord Of The Amazon, during the Tobago carnival parade of the bands, along Milford Road, Scarborough, Tobago. Photo by David Reid

TOBAGO’S bandleaders are upset that they now have to open business accounts to access grants from the THA to assist with their presentations for Carnival.

They are calling for an urgent meeting with Secretary of Tourism, Culture, Antiquities and Transportation Tashia Burris and Tobago Festivals Commission Ltd interim CEO Janelle Drysdale-Job to discuss the issue.

During an emergency meeting hosted by the Tobago Mas Bandleaders Association on February 1 at its camp office, Smithsfield, Scarborough, members feared that in light of this new criteria, they may not get the grant in time for Carnival, which is less than two weeks away.

They said the THA should have told them about it sooner so they could have made the necessary arrangements.

In a Facebook live on January 19, Chief Secretary Farley Augustine, deputising for Burris, announced that the executive council had approved the payment of grants for Tobago bandleaders for Carnival.

He said the proposal for grants that came to the THA was a budget of $140,000, but the executive council had agreed to double that amount to $280,000.

He told bandleaders that owing to the new procurement act, which was proclaimed last year, cheques could not simply be provided to them in their name.

Augustine said bandleaders should have had their bands registered as well as a bank account carrying the names of their businesses.

At the meeting, the bandleaders said they learnt about the arrangement during Augustine’s live video.