The top prize for the International Soca Monarch may be $400,000 less this year. Culture Minister Marlene McDonald said yesterday that Caribbean Prestige Holdings Ltd, founders of the show, could not keep last year's TT$1 million prize for the Power Soca Monarch because of the reduction of the subvention to the National Carnival Commission by the Government, so reduced it to US$100,000. She said because NCC received more than $900,000 less to pay out to Carnival groups this year, the ministry was forced to plead with Carnival stakeholders to "hold" all prize monies. "NCC got $122,194,200 this year, and last year they got $123,146,000 to cover all overall expenses for Carnival," she said, during a press conference at the Ministry St Ann's office.
"This means that their (NCC) money was reduced by $951,800,000," she said.
She said Prestige Foundation received $2 million in prize money this year but they could not keep the Soca Monarch prize at $1 million.
"They heeded the call by the Ministry, that all the other stakeholders retain their prizes from last year," McDonald said. Chairman of Prestige Foundation William Munroe said yesterday that because of the increased cost of production of the show, the company was forced to decrease its $1 million prize. However, he remained tight-lipped about the new figure, stating that this would be deliberated by the company over the weekend. "The world would not accept mediocrity and because of the economic crisis, there was no way that the prize could have remained at $1 million," he said. "If I could have done better, I would have."
He said so far 250-plus artistes have registered for the competition and they were individually informed of the decrease in prize-money.
On the brighter side of things, Munroe said, there would be an increase in the top prize for the Groovy Soca Monarch. Last year's prize of $150,000, he noted, will be increase to more than $200,000. "There were a lot of complaints about the prize for the Groovy last year so that's why we decided to increase it," he added. He highlighted that even the "performance prize" for this year will increase from $50,000 to between $65,000 to $75,000. "The only prize that will be decreased is the first prize for Power Soca, nothing else," he said. Deadline for registration for the competition is next Friday, he said. Contacted yesterday, Graeme Suite, TSTT's manager, media relations and corporate, said the company did not reduce its sponsorship of the event. "We remain fully committed to sponsoring the event," Suite said.