The future of the Caribbean Press is in jeopardy if the 2014 budget for a permanent editorial board is not passed, Culture Minister Frank Anthony has said.
Speaking yesterday at a press briefing during which he reviewed the ministry’s operations in 2013, Anthony said chances that the press would continue in operation if the budget was shot down were slim. “If we don’t get the money we will have to close the press down,” he reiterated, lamenting that it would be a tragic turn for the press.
The functioning of the Caribbean Press has been at the centre of controversy for the last year, following observations made by writer Ruel Johnson and a few others as regards its management.
Guyana’s Ambassador to China Dr David Dabydeen has been functioning as the executive editor of the press, but had indicated his intention to divest himself of the responsibility.
The minister said yesterday said that the request for an editorial board was going to cost the ministry quite a sum. “This was something that we were getting for free from Dabydeen but if this is what people feel will bring more transparency we don’t have a problem,” Anthony stated.
“But we will have to pay for it,” he emphasized, adding that the persons who had worked on publishing previous manuscripts for free were angered with the bad press they had received for their contributions. “And some of the local people who have been criticising have nothing to contribute to the development of the literary art forms or the publications,” he charged.
Nevertheless, he said, the press planned to release a number of books during the year, highlighting that over eight books have been published since the birth of the press. “We will be launching in another couple months a number of books that they have published and we have done a number of parliamentary speeches of past presidents and we will soon be unveiling those,” he said, noting that the press will be releasing the republished Kyk-over-al journals.
Answering questions in Parliament last year, Anthony had revealed that from 2009 to 2012, $56.6 million was spent and that the editorial service cost for the press in 2010 to 2012 was zero. Administrative costs, he said, were $7,850,000 for secretarial assistants for the editors for the period 2009 to 2012.
He had stated that the books that were to be published were: Egbert Martin: Scriptology, Twenty-Five Caribbean Poems for Children, Anthology of Caribbean Stories for Children, Six Anthologies of Contemporary Poetry by Guyanese Children (to be edited by Rev Gideon Cecil), Four collections of Children’s short stories by Janet Jagan (Reprints), Three collections of the essays of Janet Jagan, Six volumes of the National Assembly Speeches of Desmond Hoyte, Four additional volumes of the National Assembly Speeches of Forbes Burnham, Paloma Mohammed’s children’s short story, Marlee the Manatee, Three volumes of Mittelholzer Lectures, (ed. Andrew Lindsay),Two anthologies of Guyanese plays, (ed. A1 Creighton) and the Seven volumes of Kyk-Over-Al (Reprints from 1945 to 1961).