Amendments to be made to Spicemas Legislation

Changes are to be made to Spicemas Legislation, according to Minister of Culture Minister, Senator Brenda Hood.

Speaking on a television programme last week Wednesday, Sen Hood dropped strong hints that the changes that will affect the legislation governing the operations of Spicemas Corporation (SMC) are geared to correct certain deficiencies.

“It will not be business as usual,” she quipped.

The senior government minister disclosed that on August 29 there will be a symposium in which Spicemas will be put under the microscope and is hopeful that “some fresh ideas” will come out of the symposium.

Since the New National Party (NNP) of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell took office in February 2013, there has been a few change made to the Chairmanship of SMC.

Arthur Hosten was appointed to the post in 2013 but resigned months after and was replaced by Alister Bain for the 2014 carnival season.

Bain’s reign was short-lived as he resigned shortly after the 2014 Carnival Season and was succeeded by Jocelyn Sylvester-Gairy who is still sitting in the chair.

SMC has been without a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) since the reported dismissal of Amanda Smith last year.

Sen Hood pointed out that there were  “a lot of issues” with the former CEO without giving specifics but said that efforts are in the making to recruit a replacement.

“By September we should have a CEO who is capable, who knows what they are about, who can do the job properly, and that person will be hired, not by me, but by the Spicemas and the committee that they will select; but that person will be there,” she said.

The Culture Minister also blamed the cash flow problem facing the Central Government resulted in the  staggering of payment in the form of subvention to stakeholders of Spicemas like pan bands, mas bands and calypso tents.

She dropped hints that government’s cash flow is responsible for subvention not being paid in full instantly when the Carnival Season begins.

She admitted that up to the final week leading up to the climax of Carnival, many stakeholders had not received one hundred percent of their subvention.

“It (payment) depends on the cash flow that comes in that you pay them (the stakeholders),” she said.

Sen Hood disclosed that since 2013 Spicemas has been operating with a deficit of over $800,000 which she likened to a mortgage that is not being reduced.

She acknowledged that a lot of Carnival events do not make profits to pay off the bills.

The female Minister of Culture believes that a mechanism has to be found whereby the subvention can be dealt with, and at the same time find ways in which Spicemas can be able to raise funds on its own.

Last week a number of Soca and Groovy Artistes met with Sen. Hood to bring to her attention the need for an increase in prize monies for the various shows.

She announced on a radio programme that the Artistes will receive an increase in appearance fees.

Appearance fee for the soca monarch currently stands at $6,000, while the appearance fee for groovy is $2,000.

The Culture Minister, who declined to give the new increased fees, said the funds were being sourced from “outside of Grenada.”

Sen. Hood referred to meetings held last year by her Ministry with all the Artistes in an effort to try to get them to be better organized and to look at several issues.

“It is not only the money that you give to them, but in terms of the quality of the product that they produce,” she said as she made reference to the meetings.

Grenada has two rival calypso associations – one involving soca artistes that are linked to the ruling party and the other involving traditional calypsonians whose members are suspected to be supporters of the island’s main opposition party.

SMC was established in 2011 following the passage of the Spicemas Legislation, and it is charged with the responsibility of administering, managing and marketing Grenada’s annual Carnival which is held in August.

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