Montserrat Annual Festival racks up more than $600,000 in Bills

LITTLE BAY – The 2014 Montserrat Annual Festival racked up a whopping $623,573.86 in expenses according to the Hon. Premier Donaldson Romeo.

During Friday, March 20, 2015 meeting of the Legislative Assembly, the premier answering questions posed by Hon. Opposition Member Easton Taylor-Farrell provided by the justification for the Supplementary Appropriations Bill which was read.

There was $240,000 allocated for festival 2014 but to day $623,573.86 has been spent. A total of $378,738.63  have been paid out on bills directly related to the festival and a balance of $243,833.00 outstanding.

The five shows organised by the festival committee which were: Calypso Eliminations, Calypso Semi-Finals, Calypso Finals, the Queen Pageant and the Regional Female Calypso Show only brought in $70,260.89, the premier, who is also the Minister of Finance stated.

Hon. Parliamentary Secretary Gregory Willock said the budget allocation of $240,000 for a national festival was “unacceptable” and that a festival of any quality can’t be run on that amount. He said as the festivals were a key part of tourism and both were the elements that are used for private sector development and growth, it was necessary to make the investment to build up the annual December event and bring it to international standards.

He added that the private sector had been reluctant in 2014 to sponsor festival events which meant that the government needed to ensure they were able to deliver the shows.

Hon. Minister of Agriculture Claude Hogan added funds went towards delivering the festival but also to invest in the future development of the event.

A large portion of the funds went into the preparing the infrastructure of the area in front of the Little Bay Cricket Field, which has now been designated as the permanent site for the annual festival.

The new festival grounds will double as a car park for the nearby venues such as the cricket grounds and the basketball complex.  He thanked the Public Works Department for coming in to complete the infrastructural works which included water and electricity and levelling the grounds.

The additional funds was subsequently passed in the Supplementary Appropriations Bills #3 2014/15