A decision is still to be made on the contractual dispute between the Ministry of Culture and Swansea Industrial Associates, regarding the company’s alleged breach of contract during last year’s Carifesta X celebrations. The matter is still with the Attorney General’s (AG) Chambers. The Ministry of Culture is alleging that Swansea did not fulfil several contractual obligations relating to the provision of lighting and sound for the Carifesta activities held at the National Stadium at Providence.
When Stabroek News spoke with Culture Minister Dr Frank Anthony, he said that his ministry could not proceed in the matter unless advice was first received from the Attorney General. Previously, Anthony told this newspaper that if the AG determined that there had been a breach of contract by Swansea, the most likely penalty would be that the contractor would have to refund the ministry some of the money paid. Following the signing of the contract between the Culture Ministry and Swansea, the company was paid $24,720,000. This was for the provision of lighting, stage gear, and requisite support services for the rehearsals and actual events for five activities — the opening and closing ceremonies, the Hindu and Christian events and the Carifesta super concert. Stabroek News was informed that further to this initial sum of money, additional funds were given to Duncan by the government to facilitate the emergency transporting of equipment from Trinidad & Tobago.
Swansea Director Christian Duncan, however, has maintained that he did the best he could given the limited time he had to acquire all of the necessary equipment. In a letter written to the Anthony, Duncan admitted that there might have been some shortcomings on the part of his company, but attributed them mainly to the late release of the funds. The contract was only confirmed on August 15, for the event which ran from August 22 to 31.
In the letter, Duncan said the Carifesta Secretariat knew that equipment had to be imported for the execution of the project and that this required a minimum of two weeks to allow for the acquisition of equipment and personnel.
Meantime, Anthony said the audited accounts for Carifesta are still not available.
He said that as soon as the Auditor General was finished auditing the accounts of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, the expenditure will be made available. During a previous interview with this newspaper, Anthony explained that the Carifesta Secretariat (which was specially set up as the event’s organising body) could not be audited as a separate entity, since all financial matters relating to the festival were done through the Ministry and not the Secretariat.
Anthony told this newspaper that approximately $1B was spent to host the event, but pointed out that some of these expenses were borne by the governments of the various delegations that participated. These governments would have spent money on airfare and accommodation for the various delegations, he said. However, the amount spent far exceeds the $505M, which was originally budgeted locally for the staging of the event.