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NCDF chairman works to brand T&T globally
T&T must seek foreign markets to export Carnival as an industry, Mahindra Satram-Maharaj, chairman, National Carnival Development Foundation (NCDF) said yesterday. “We must recognise that mas in T&T is about 140,000 to 240,000 persons, that is our market. We cannot afford to fight among ourselves for that market but there are six billion people there in love with our market and we must do something,” he said.
“Government was part of Cariforum signed the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) trade agreement a couple years ago. This is one of the few trade agreements that has affected our creative industries which Carnival and mas are a part of. There are tremendous benefits for mass practitioners in T&T.”
Satram-Maharaj was speaking at the launch of the NCDF’s business magazine, Mas Quarterly, at NAPA, Port-of-Spain. He also called on relevant Government ministries to disburse mas royalties that have been collected over the years.
“From 2007 to 2012 millions of dollars have been collected in royalties and a major agency in the Ministry of Arts and Multi Culturalism plays a major part in having those funds disbursed. Yet we were looking at business and business transformation. Every year it is the same thing. When Ash Wednesday comes 97 per cent of mas practitioners in T&T find themselves broke,” he said.
Satram-Maharaj said for too long stakeholders in the industry has have been depending on the government for contributions. He called for the private sector to get involved in the business of Carnival. “We gave become dependent on the state for everything,” he said.
Satram-Maharaj added: “One of our major objectives is to have T&T’s mas totally green within a period of four to six years. We are working with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the T&T Tourism Services Industry (TTCSI) in a project geared toward transforming mas bands into sustainable businesses through the use of technology.” He said their goal is to brand T&T globally.
“At one point we were asking ourselves if pan will be ours and after a long fight it was. Recently you read that a Latin American country now considers calypso to be its national song. If we do not watch it we will lose mas. We have already started discussions with the head of a global airline that has shown interest in us,” he said.