Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Spicemas Corporation (SMC), Kirk Seetahal has accused some mas bands of theft by getting subvention money from government and not bringing out masqueraders on Carnival day.
Seetahal made the charge at a press conference to outline plans for the holding of this year’s carnival celebrations in August.
He told reporters that the state-controlled body would have received a list of Mas Bands and the sum of money for subvention as recommended by the Grenada Mas Bands Association.
He informed the media that since taking charge of SMC, he noticed that bands would have received subvention but failed to make a presentation on the road, which he likened to being theft.
“It is very important for me to understand that this is a Statutory Body, and I am accountable to the Ministry of Finance and the Government of Grenada,” he said.
Seetahal announced that as from this year, bands wanting subvention have to apply to SMC and will have to sign a contract binding them to show proof of how the money was used.
“I want to let all Mas Bands know that in order to receive subvention for 2017, you will have to submit your report for 2016. It is not business as usual, I do not intend to be mean, but we are dealing with government money and we have to be accountable,” he said.
Organisers of Grenada Carnival 2017 are preparing for its launch tomorrow (Saturday) at the Roy St. John’s Playing Field on the Port Highway, St. George’s with a display of “all things carnival.”
SMC, which is responsible for showcasing the annual event, has once again reported a shortfall in the budget of $3.2m for the August Festival.
According to Seetahal, the challenge Spicemas faced by the corporation in raising sponsorship for the festival has not changed.
He said that many sponsors have indicated they have already tapped into their budget for the numerous activities happening in 2017 on the island.
Last year SMC experienced a $500,000 shortfall in sponsorship when compared with 2015.
In 2015 SMC had $1,365,000,00 in sponsorship, while in 2016 there was sponsorship of $852,000.
The SMC CEO outlined to the media the expenditure faced for each of the main shows of Carnival, along with the gates receipts that saw an increase of $126,000 on the final night.
Revenue for Dimanche Gras was $57,000 but total expenditure amounted to $265,000; Panorama netted $24,000, while expenditure was $376,000; Queen Show raised $47,000, with an expenditure of $177,000; Soca and Groovy Monarch competition brought in $466,000, and the expenditure was $643,000.
The Carnival Boss pointed out that there cannot be a price on culture.
“Spicemas is also not making any money, but Spicemas is mandated to make sure that the Carnival festival comes off,” the CEO said.
He is urging government to provide a greater subvention to SMC to manage its budget, and has implored Corporate Grenada to understand the benefits they receive from Spicemas.
Government’s subvention currently stands at $700,000.
Seetahal said because SMC is always in a financial debt, it is unable to do a lot of things it wishes to accomplish.
“We are in a financial crisis and we have to find ways to make sure that we can maintain Spicemas,” he remarked.
The current debt of the corporation currently stands at $800,000.
Seetahal said SMC has approached new sponsors in order to try and cut cost in every aspect of Spicemas.
One of the areas identified in cutting cost is through a change in the structure of offering subvention to the stakeholders.
According to the Carnival boss, fund raising avenues have been looked at and one of the things on board is the hosting of the first ever “Miss Caribbean United” beauty show at the Grenada Trades Centre in Grand Anse on April 29th.
Seetahal said that participants are expected from Venezuela, St. Kitts/Nevis, St. Lucia, Barbados, Margarita and host country Grenada and this will mark the first fund-raising initiative for Spicemas for the year.
In collaboration with the Grenada Tourism Association (GTA), SMC takes its promotion of Spicemas on the road, the first stop being in Trinidad on May 1st with a press conference.
While in Trinidad the touring party will meet with the Travel Agents speaking about Grenada as a tourist destination and what will be offered for 2017 Spicemas.
The SMC touring party then moves to New York on May 21st where they will conduct a fund-raising and Spicemas launch.
Seetahal told reporters it is highly unlikely that carnival this year will be celebrated under a new theme.
He said the corporation is looking at sticking to one theme as is done in other regional countries.
He added that the time has come for there to be a universal theme for Spicemas to be used annually to showcase the island’s major cultural event.