Shifting land compounded by heavy rainfall over the past week has caused a Hindu mandir in Freeport “to collapse to some extent”.
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Debt-free NCC aims for efficiency
Now that the National Carnival Commission’s (NCC) debts have been paid off, the agency plans to modernise the way it manages its business so that it can become a more efficient entity that facilitates T&T’s Carnival. However, according to CEO Michael Guyadeen, the NCC is not designed to generate large sums of revenue on its own. “NCC’s revenue is derived from the rental of the stage and rental of the booths where we charge vendors, where they can be charged up to $1,800 a booth,” he explained.
“The large corporations are not coming forward to sponsor us as we would like to have them do. There is a new thrust by the NCC chairman to make NCC more attractive. One of the main objectives is rebranding,” he told the Sunday Guardian, in an interview at the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah, where major Carnival events will be held over the next few weeks. This year the Government allocated $289 million to the NCC. The NCC will spend $92 million of that sum on actual Carnival events.
“There is the infrastructure work in north, south, Piccadilly Greens, Adam Smith Square, Victoria Square, then there is the sound system, the lighting, decorations, marketing, electricity, water connections and a special fee to pay to T&TEC for connections. This connection alone is $500,000. “For the Tragarete Road route there are toilet facilities. In the Savannah, there are 500 toilets and on the outskirts we expect to put up another 600 toilets throughout the city.”
Last year, $175 million was allocated to the NCC. Of that amount, $155 million was spent on actual Carnival events. The NCC paid off a $115 million debt, mainly to contractors and service providers. Guyadeen said: “This debt was for previous bills incurred by the NCC and not settled for contractors and construction. Now the debt has been liquidated.”
Guyadeen said the NCC now has a procurement system for improved management. “There is open tendering, the evaluations are done by a separate committee. There is a review committee, a tenders committee and then it goes to the board,” he explained, saying that this year early payments to contractors had resulted in works being completed early.
“Because of the assistance given by the ministry, we can effect cost savings by funding for the contractors. We have given them 50 per cent of their contract value by mobilisation with performance bonds. The prices that they have been willing to give us, we have been able to negotiate it down because of that system of early payment.”
He said contractors had become accustomed to getting late payments from the NCC but that is changing now that they will be paid on time. Guyadeen said this new approach “strengthens the hands of the executive and board in negotiating improved prices.” However, he pointed out, the NCC is not in a position to generate funds on its own “in any significant way.”
“The NCC really facilitates the interest groups, so that the income generation aspect would go to the interest groups. The NCC raises a very small percentage of its operating costs from the rental of facilities but that is very small. “The calypso tent for TUCO, we are responsible for the construction of that. We are responsible for infrastructure and to facilitate that. People talk about self-ufficiency. The NCC is not designed to be self sufficient.”
Modernising the NCC
The NCC CEO maintained, however, that the agency has to be operated in a modern and businesslike way. “There are all indications that we are moving towards a better management of the NCC and you are seeing it manifested. The NCC is the ministry’s flagship for all things Carnival,” Guyadeen said.
Edward Metivier, an NCC commissioner and adviser to Dr Lincoln Douglas, Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism, provided information to the Sunday Guardian which shows that T&T’s Carnival is being promoted in new markets around the world. This is expected to result in new revenue for the country. Douglas has been on overseas trips promoting T&T in South Africa, Brazil, Russia, India and China, the BRIC countries which are the world’s fastest growing economies.
Last Carnival, a delegation visited from Nigeria. This year there are delegations from Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Liberia and Cameroon, where T&T-style carnivals are held. This is expected to open up new markets for T&T’s Carnival industry.