ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Carnival players have put down their feet, demanding the payment of more than $700,000 in prize monies and are giving the Carnival Development Committee (CDC) early notice that late payment will not be tolerated in 2012.
Representatives of the calypso, mas’ and pan associations have expressed dissatisfaction with the situation and urged the authorities to deal with the matter expeditiously.
“Calypsonians have creditors who they have to pay and these creditors do not believe that the calypsonians have not been paid as yet. This same thing happened last year. We are not prepared to have this continued next year and so we just hope that things are put in place,” said Adelza “Lypstick” Sheridan, Calypso Association president.
“It’s not easy for calypsonians to do their recordings. It’s a very costly venture and monies are paid late. So from the association point of view, we will have an official date when the money will be paid,” she added.
Calypsonians are owed in the region of $136,000.
Patrick “Stone” Johnson, the president of the Pan Association, was more circumspect in his remarks even though his group has just over $215,000 outstanding.
“They haven’t told us anything. I haven’t had any discussions,” he said, with reference to the CDC.
“The outstanding amount is Panorama prize monies and for other areas of carnival.”
In contrast, it was no holds barred for Barrymore “Zawadi” Thomas, vice president of the Mas’ Association, who took umbrage with the situation in light of the estimated $237,000 owed to them.
“The authorities are not speaking to us. They don’t come and tell us anything,” he said in obvious irritation, adding that many members are threatened with legal action every year.
The veteran mas’ builder said the late payment has had a “bad” effect on members, many of whom have credit from local businesses.
“We are feeling like disposable products. We’re feeling like Pampers and paper cups. They just finish use us and now they dispose of us. We are not important anymore since Carnival done,” he told The Daily OBSERVER.
Thomas said members are often taken to court because of the problem that, for years, has dogged the annual festivity.
Reports suggest that soca artistes have also not been paid the $189,000 in prize monies by the CDC.
Minister responsible for Carnival, Eleston “Namba” Adams has apologised for the situation.
He also indicated he was unaware when funds will be available to pay the different groups.
“We are hoping that the Treasury will find money and make it available to the CDC so that it can settle outstanding debt to carnival participants, “ he said.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)