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Tax dollars down the drain

Saturday, January 13, 2018

At my age, it is advisable that whilst I keep physically active as I possibly can, I ought to exercise appropriate caution for my physical safety.

However, last Thursday I “ketch ah vaps” and literally leapt into action to join the People’s National Movement. I felt the time had come as I began to witness a single ray of hope for our country. There were solid rumours of the Government withdrawing all funding from Chutney Soca Monarch.

These rumours quickly solidified into an announcement by popular promoter George Singh (relative of Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi) that the competition was cancelled. I had literally begged the former PP Government to withdraw funding from these competitions. Now the PNM had seen it fit to act and to do the right thing. I had to convert. I had to bear allegiance to the PNM. But then Minister of Finance reversed the position and granted Singh one million dollars to accommodate the nonsense.

For years, our country had been brutally ravaged with songs of drinking rum, “White oak and water.” “Indian feeling to party” in a “river lime” became the order of the day. Try hard as they may, East Indian men couldn’t begin to distance themselves from the stigma that, “You know ah was a drinker.”

Chutney soca projected the image of the East Indian husband drowning his sorrows in a bottle of alcohol whilst singing about his wife, “She leave meh and gone away.” In more recent times, some “village ram” named Ramsingh Sharma from San Juan had been taking away people’s wives. 

Furthermore, many tunes were a complete plagiarism of bhajans (Hindu religious songs) and popular Indian film songs. This art form served to denigrate the very fabric of East Indian ancestors and their values!

I thought for a moment that the East Indians would finally be spared the shame and humiliation as well as the assault on their true culture when I heard that the competition was cancelled this year. My hopes were very short-lived as news of Minister of Finance Colm Imbert, speaking about reduced funding as opposed to zero funding, led to the fate of Chutney Soca Monarch turning from one of outright cancellation to one of uncertainty. At the time of writing this article, I can only say that time will tell.

But let’s move away from what the typical critic would cast aside as “Sat’s personal hang-ups.” Social media has been inundated with tweets and posts voicing outrage over Government’s decision to fund Chutney Soca Monarch 2018. Ordinary taxpayers are not benefiting from health services, education and proper roads! Yet, their tax dollars, are being doled out to provide prize money to a competition where the promoter alone makes a profit and goes home smiling! One person posted on Facebook, “we giving away a million dollars to assist (the promotion of) nanny…rum…muddas and the likes.” I personally could not have summed it up any better.

If Carnival is such a big tourist attraction, I hasten to suggest that the said million dollars could be used to fix the North Coast Road to ensure maximum tourist adventures at Maracas Beach all year round. And why not use some of the Carnival hand out to promote Mayaro as a local tourist destination on the East Coast?

We really need to start getting our priorities right! The last Government failed miserably when it increased funding to Carnival. Any monies saved during those years would have placed our country in a better position now. The present Government should not perpetuate these misplaced priorities else we increase our already high risks of becoming a failed society.

The previous week I referred to “We jamming still” as being our culture. No right thinking member of our society would be proud of such a culture. Instead they would be despondent and ashamed. The way times are toughening up, I doubt that any citizen would be diffident to say that Chutney and Soca Monarchs and Carnival 2018 should not be funded by the State.

The Government should trump and follow suit!

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