$4M for Emancipation
By Miranda La Rose Friday, July 27 2012
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African leaders: Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, his wife Dame Patience Jonathan and a 70-member delegation will pay a State visit to TT next we...
Government has stepped forward with $4 million in funding for Emancipation Day, one day before the Emancipation Support Committee of Trinidad and Tobago (ESC) officially launches its six days of celebration of the end of African slavery, after initially refusing a $1 million grant.
The funding coincided with the announcement of a three-day State Visit by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan who will take part in the celebrations, culminating with the public holiday on August 1.
Emancipation activities begin this evening with a “Forward Friday Concert” featuring David Rudder at the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain.
At yesterday’s post-Cabinet press conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Dr Lincoln Douglas announced his ministry would be supporting the ESC by providing $2 million, and the Office of the Prime Minister has allocated an additional $2 million.
On Tuesday, ESC chairman Khafra Kambon refused a $1 million grant from the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism to support Emancipation activities because there was no commitment for further funding by Government at the time.
In a statement issued yesterday the ESC expressed “its appreciation to the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism for efforts made in ensuring this national observance is a successful one.”
The ESC said it was also looking forward to the events at the Lidj Yasu Omowale Emancipation Village, Queen’s Park Savannah, especially with Jonathan’s visit.
Following the receipt of the “requested $4 million”, the ESC said, “the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism agreed with the committee that soon after this year’s celebrations they would meet to discuss a resolution to this problem, faced not only by the ESC, but other groups organising major national festivals.”
At a press conference on Tuesday, Kambon said in order to avoid a similar situation of not getting requested funds as occurred last year, the ESC sent a budget of $4 million to Government, its main sponsor over the years, to support its activities. The total expenses, he said was expected to run into $7 million. However, it only received a commitment for $1 million which it refused.
Newsday understands that on the intervention of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, $4 million was approved, with half being allocated by her office.
Kambon received a $2 million cheque from Persad-Bissessar at the Diplomatic Centre yesterday. The balance would be released by the Arts and Multiculturalism Ministry.
On the funding, Douglas said he was in contact with Kambon, but noted “the Emancipation Committee has to do what it has to do. I don’t have no problem with that.”
According to Douglas, Government was working on a number of policies in relation to its involvement with national festivals.
“We are currently working on a multicultural policy on how we interact with each other in this nation; a cultural policy that deals with the value of our culture and its intrinsic purpose in terms of forging a nation for us; and a policy on the disbursements of grants and subventions to cultural groups.”
Once the policies were in place, he said, they would provide a pathway for cultural work in TT. Before the policies come into being, he said, they would be discussed in community consultations.
Government, he said, was in the process of trying to find the best formula to help all involved in the Emancipation activities to make it a national event. Small community organisations, he said, have received funding ranging from $5,000 to $10,000.
Announcing the State Visit by the Nigerian President and his wife Dame Patience Jonathan, acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Suruj Rambachan reported that the Prime Minister had said she was “extremely pleased that their excellencies” have accepted Government’s invitation to take part in this year’s Emancipation celebrations, especially as it is also in the year of the country’s 50th Independence anniversary.The cost of the visit by the Nigerian President and his delegation, Rambachan said, will be borne by the State.
“When you invite a Head of State to your country,” he said, “that is paid by the host government.”
In this case it will be TT, he said. “Certainly when our Prime Minister is invited to a foreign country the same kind of courtesy is extended to her and her official delegation.”
Asked about the cost of the visit, he said the cost would be revealed based on the expenditures sent to Government.
This year also being the 50th anniversary of Independence, he said, it would be especially momentous to have an African leader celebrating with TT given the support countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Nigeria gave to TT and “the Father of the Nation, Dr Eric Williams” during the freedom and independence struggles. Jonathan, his wife and a 70-member delegation were schedule to arrive on July 31.
He would be given a full military welcome on arrival at Piarco International Airport, and will be met by President George Maxwell Richards, Persad-Bissessar and members of Cabinet.
Jonathan, who has expressed a desire for air-links between TT and Nigeria, will hold bilateral talks on trade and energy matters with Government.
He is due to visit key energy and shipping installations in TT and to meet with Nigerians living in TT.
He will be the main guest at a State Banquet hosted by Richards and an Emancipation lunch hosted by Persad-Bissessar.
On August 1, Jonathan is scheduled to take part in the Emancipation parade — Kamboulay.