The Carnival Development Corporation (CDC) does not have the power to stop a private promoter from hosting an event on the same night that the CDC has an activity once both activities are not of the same nature.
Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves made this clear last Saturday, January 7, 2023 during the CDC’s annual prize giving ceremony.
“They say -why you have to get a license from CDC to take part or put some festival. The law doesn’t say that ah nah,” Gonsalves stressed on Saturday as he delivered the feature address.
Gonsalves said he, along with former Minister of Culture, Rene Baptiste and legal drafts person, Petrona Sealey, were intimately involved in drafting the law that gave the CDC its mandate and powers.
He noted that there is a rubric in the law which says, persons may hold a Carnival festival or activity in the state with or without a license granted by the CDC.
“…but it goes on to say…if a person holds a carnival festival or activity without obtaining a license from the Board, he shall not be entitled to any assistance- financial or otherwise from the Board.
“Well that’s okay, you wah do your own thing, nobody stop you from doing your own thing, but don’t line up by the trough asking for money,” Gonsalves said.
He noted that sensible persons drafted the law, and Members of Parliament approved it.
“I encourage persons to read the law and I believe some man and woman on the CDC Board who ain’t read the law- but you need to read the law.”
He further said that over the years, the CDC has received a lot of criticism without people understanding what Parliament has agreed to.
“A lot of criticism of CDC- saying sometimes there is a function and CDC says you can’t hold an activity elsewhere, but the CDC just can’t say so, they can’t say so, that is not what the law says,” Gonsalves stressed.
He said that Section 6 of the law speaks to restriction of persons holding Carnival festivities or an activity, and that section says, “a person who is desirous of holding a Carnival festival activity on a day on which an event of the CDC is scheduled to take place shall not be allowed to do so if the event or activity is deemed by order of the CDC, to have competing interests with its scheduled event.”
He said the term “competing interest” does not mean another activity.
“…you have a queen show here, and me family Luke, Luke Boyea, want to have a fete, wet fete or whatever the name of it out Arnos Vale, CDC can’t stop him. If you want to hold a queen show there, CDC can say, ‘I have a queen show here already. That would be a competing interest’,” the Prime Minister explained.
He noted also that it has been said that sometimes a member of the CDC Board will allow a friend to have an event on a night when the CDC has an activity and stop someone else from doing the same.
“Well if they do that. It is wrong. They can’t discriminate against anybody. I ain’t born yesterday. I know every dog have their friend but you have to be reasonable, and if you are to take a decision, that decision is not final it can be appealed. The CDC is not a law unto itself,” Gonsalves said.
He added that sometime ago, local artist and businessman, Calvert Jones wanted to bring “a band” from overseas to take part in Carnival and the CDC said “no” it is not a local band.
“Well, I am sorry. When we were doing this thing, the song by Kitchener was in me head when we drafting the law, and when I heard about it, I said this is foolishness, the road make to walk pon Carnival day, the only man can stop you walking on the road carnival day is the Commissioner of Police for security grounds,” Gonsalves pointed out.
He further explained that if a promoter wants money from the CDC, they must obtain an event license from the Board.
“The law says that if the Board does not give you a license and you can’t get money, you can appeal to the minister.
“It says so in the law. Within 14 days of the decision you are appealing against and the minster has to refer this matter to an appeal tribunal.
“Neither the Board or the minister is a King Kong,” Prime Minister Gonsalves further stressed.
He added, “I don’t know if the Board want the powers of King Kong, but I certainly ain’t going go to Parliament and give the Board no powers of King Kong.”
He said that the Minister of Culture cannot hand pick who should get an event license as he has to take the issues to Cabinet for approval.