The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) never refused to give financial assistance to Pan Trinbago for the 2012 Panorama steel band competition, Chief Secretary Orville London has said.
He recalled that Pan Trinbago’s President Keith Diaz and his executive met him on January 10 2012 to request funding to the tune of $3.2 million to support the Tobago bands’ participating in the Panorama semi finals and finals in Port of Spain. London said it was agreed that Pan Trinbago would approach the Minister of Multiculturalism Winston ‘Gypsy’ Peters to get the additional funding since it was a national event.
Therefore, he said, his request to Pan Trinbago was to write the Assembly informing it of the situation and to make it known in the letter that the association accepted it was the responsibility of that Ministry and that the Ministry of Multiculturalism had not held out its responsibility and in desperation the association had come to the Assembly. “We never received that communication and as far as we are aware that request never came,” London added.
He said Pan Trinbago went to Peter requesting the $3.2 million for the transportation of the Tobago bands to Trinidad; the Minister said he did not have the money and he would not be able to get the money and he even recommended to them that what he would like them to do was to have one band from Tobago representing the island and the national finals. London said Pan Trinbago rejected that and he also rejected that, saying that if that was so then there should also be one band from each zone in Trinidad.
London said it was in those circumstances that Pan Trinbago came to the THA to discuss their request. “Our position was very clear, if we are assisting we must not assist in a situation where anybody thinks it is our responsibility,” he said.
London said it was therefore a disingenuous and dishonest position taken by the Tobago Development Minister Vernella Alleyne-Toppin who was reported to have said that Pan Trinbago came to the Assembly begging for financial support for the competition and was turned away.
He said the Minister should have first obtained the true situation before jumping into the fray, making false accusations and a fool of herself.
London said: “ It is quite unfortunate that here it is we have a situation where the Tobago bands have competed, have done extremely well and Tobago is celebrating and that is the time the Tobago Development Minister would take the opportunity to make this dishonest statement. That says something about the way in which these people do business because that is the time you should be most positive and even though you are criticising, criticise based on the facts, but here it is when you should be celebrating and congratulating you are prepared to distort the facts to try to make political mileage out of something for which you were responsible in the first place. They should have been totally embarrassed because of the way in which this thing was managed.
“I just want to make it very clear to the people of Tobago that it was a disingenuous and dishonest statement on the part of the Minister of Tobago Development and she knows the facts and the facts were very public. The Minister has done some interesting things over the past two year but this one takes the cake,” London concluded.