There will be no Chutney Soca Monarch for Carnival 2018 as the organisers Southex officially announced its cancellation saying it is due to low sponsorship.
"We are saddened by this turn of events and find the timing rather suspicious given recent events. Therefore please be advised that the 2018 Chutney Soca Monarch is hereby formally cancelled due to low government and state support and our inability to fund the venture privately as a result of its sheer size and expense," Southex CEO George Singh told a news conference this morning..
He said he attended a meeting with the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) on Wednesday, where he was informed that the NLCB will not sponsor the event this year.
"On January 3rd 2018 a mere one day before the launch of the 23rd Anniversary of the Chutney Soca Monarch, the offices of Southex contacted the National Lotteries Control Board with regard to the payment of their Sponsorship package; a package that was previously approved by the then board of directors," he said.
He added: "I was informed that I was required to attend an urgent meeting that morning at the offices of NLCB. Whilst there I was greeted by the CEO and informed that there was a change, a change to which he was awaiting a final decision on. Within a few minutes a phone call was received by the CEO and taken outside of the said meeting. A few minutes later the CEO re-entered the room to which he stated that there was an email confirmation and directive by the Ministry of Finance that stated that the Chutney Soca Monarch was no longer to be the recipient of any funding whatsoever. It was stated that the NLCB would no longer be a sponsor after having a longstanding relationship spanning a period of 15 years."
He said that the Government over the last three years has consistently reduced funding to Chutney Soca Monarch and said that various members of the present administration "have stated directly to us that ‘Chutney Soca’ brings no value to Carnival".
"These statements are made all while the government has approved, according to a recent newspaper article, a budget of $146 million to the NCC, of which I am aware that close to $10M in the past have gone towards temporary toilet facilities. The rest being spread across vendors who consistently raise the same expensive structures at exorbitant prices to the citizens of this country. Why has the government not cut their funding? As I have been reliably informed, the “Status Quo is too well entrenched”," Singh said.
He continued: "It is sad to say but the real culture and growth, the source of the very thing that drives Carnival has been forced on the shoulders of private entities that have grown these shows beyond their own abilities to afford them and therefore we rely on the government for support. Trinidad and Tobago has an influx of hundreds of thousands of visitors during the 2 month lead up to carnival all of whom come to our shores to take part in each and every cultural aspect this country has to offer. We are unsure as to the reason and motives behind this sudden pull out from Chutney Soca Monarch by the government but we hope that we are among many who share this sentiment as it would be a very peculiar state of affairs if there were other cultural events receiving sponsorship this carnival with the exception of one."