Things are brown, but Brown is coming
October 19, 2012 | By KNews | Filed Under Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon
To this day, no one outside of the current Minister of Finance and the then President, Bharrat Jagdeo, knows how much money the government spent on hosting Carifesta and building the National Stadium.
In relation to Carifesta, we know that the Theatre Guild is still owed $1.4 million by the Carifesta Secretariat for loan of the building. This was reported by a Theatre Guild executive, Malcolm De Freitas, in an interview with the Stabroek News
It is truly amazing that Dr. Paloma Mohamed of UG, who is another executive of the Theatre Guild, can go public with her wish to have UG bring back its former Chancellor, Dr. Compton Bourne (the worst UG Chancellor in the institution’s history) but is silent on this outstanding $1.4 M. It is amazing, too, that our eminent citizen, Ian Mc Donald (who has since migrated to Canada), another person closely connected to the Theatre Guild, can write a column on poverty in the US but chose not to highlight this wrong done to the Theatre Guild (someone asked me at the People’s Parliament why don’t I ask Mc Donald why he didn’t mention poverty in his own country; plan to do that).
We also don’t know how much money the Government pours into the annual Hits and Jam festivities.
Last year, Hits and Jams brought down, international star, Ne-Yo and the organization refused to disclose how much he was paid.
My argument in a column then was that Hits and Jams cannot make a profit yet find money to pay those classes of international performers they bring down in an economy like Guyana’s.
The Government acknowledged that it gave Hits and Jams money but would not disclose the figures.
The 2012 budget debate is gone and we still don’t know what kind of funds Hits and Jams got last year. Obviously it is not a separate line-item in the budget of the Ministry of Culture and Sport. If it was, then it would have been picked up by opposition MPs.
Now, Hits and Jams is bringing another superstar, Chris Brown. This is unbelievable financial vulgarity.
There is no way Hits and Jams can hold a concert in Guyana, even with the National Stadium filled to capacity (even if tickets go at $10,000 which wouldn’t and cannot be), pay for overheads, make a profit and pay Chris Brown.
The financial vulgarity comes in because the State subsidizes the payment of these stars.
It is simple Maths you can do on a calculator. Paying international stars to perform is a highly expensive venture for one reason – there is a standard amount that live performances bring in.
In a one-hour gig (the show may go for two hours but the main attraction does not perform for more than an hour), a superstar singer like Ne-Yo or Chris Brown anywhere in the world would pull in more than a million dollars for that night. If they come to a place like Guyana and sing for half an hour, they will not accept anything less than US$300,000 (G$60M) and this sum excludes expenditure on transport from the US and hotel accommodation and other related expenses
Jagdeo had absolutely no hang-up in spending enormous sums on Hits and Jams’ yearly escapades while refusing to pay the Theatre Guild. Ramotar is continuing this bacchanal.
The very government that tells the population that it cannot afford to furnish schools with original texts could pump millions of dollars into extravagant concerts.
The fascinating question I have is how the Jagdeo regime hid that expenditure from the eyes of the IMF. I don’t think under the arrangement the Guyana Government has with the IMF, State funds could go into subsidizing concerts the type that Hits and Jams hosts. I may be wrong, but I think so.
Also, how was the money hidden in the Culture Ministry’s budget?
One must remember that this very Ministry acknowledged last year that it provided some funds to Hits and Jams.
These are the abnormalities and depravities that the opposition parties must show the rural folks when the PPP leaders go to the countryside and serenade their supporters with tall tales of developmental accomplishments. Any decent human would recoil at these immoralities.
One of the most sickening aspects of the PPP Government’s non-performance over the years it has been in power is the shocking absence of washroom facilities in public schools throughout the square miles of this country? A UG lecturer told me the situation is appalling at Queen’s College. The toilets at Pradoville 2 are ultra-modern, even the ones in the change rooms of the swimming pools.