~ Stakeholders are still not paid, and they can walk out on carnival. ~
PHILIPSBURG: --- Member of Parliament Rolando Brison called on the government to look into the status of St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) whose financials are not in order. The UP member of Parliament said that this foundation is receiving government subsidies and they are expected to share information with the government in order to comply with the subsidy ordinance. He called on his colleagues in parliament to read the report from SOAB on their website and they would see for themselves the status of SCDF and its financials.
Besides that, Brison said several stakeholders that participated in the carnival are still not being paid. He said that based on what he has seen there is an impending disaster come April 2023, he asked what if these stakeholders that have not been paid decided to walk out at the beginning of carnival 2023 and not at the end like they did last year.
Brison said SCDF is financially not able to host the carnival any longer and he has sounded the alarm several times.
The UPP Faction leader said that the decree to audit SCDF is still there in the Minister's office since it was the former minister who wanted to audit SCDF based on an instruction the minister was given.
The MP credited SCDF for their hard work but felt no one should put carnival at risk. He calls on the government to set the record straight when it comes to the lack of communication between the government and the SCDF.
After the presentation in parliament on Friday the SCDF sent out an email to the Council of Ministers and Members of Parliament basically complaining about the statements made by the member of parliament on the floor of parliament. The SCDF went as far as asking that Brison be issued a cease and desist
Below is the full email from SCDF to the COM and parliament.
Honorable Ministers, Members of Parliament, Pleasant Day to you,
As the new President of the SCDF, I am not a man of many words, but I am a man of my word and I'm a man of little niceties. I speak plainly so I am not misunderstood. I give respect and hope to be respected in return.
Once again today MP Brison used his position in Parliament to undermine and sabotage the SCDF. MP Brison has no clue about the preparations we have already made for Carnival 2023 and has no care for the long-term business relationships the SCDF has which he continues to put in jeopardy. Our progress has been great on the financial front and I have personally devoted the last few months to this. The MP's comments were baseless.
Since we met with Parliament earlier this year, once in a five-hour closed-door session and then in an open meeting we have not heard a word from the government. But here was MP Brison again painting the SCDF black and trying to hang a question mark over Carnival 2023 by asking Parliament and Government to consider what would happen if April comes and there is no Carnival. A very mischievous and wicked comment to make.
When in the 53 years of Carnival has there ever been no Carnival? Despite the underfunded challenges each President has faced for decades. Never! Because the volunteers of Carnival make it happen. We are well underway with Carnival 2023 and beyond and the media has covered it. MP Brison mentions people who are upset but why are he and the government always so eager to believe one-sided stories and not simply ask the SCDF? Why? Everything people say and do is Gospel, and we are the devils.
The Honorable Prime Minister told the media that she was looking forward to amicable discussions with the SCDF. This has not happened. The SCDF has sought a meeting since June 22 with the Minister of TEATT, but this has not happened. The SCDF has twice sought a meeting with the Minister of Culture, but this has not happened. That makes it over two years and one President later that the SCDF has been seeking an audience to discuss this issue. Still no audience. How much more begging do we have to do?
I have publicly stated that in my tenure we intend to take Carnival back to its roots. All preparations are underway for that including the cooperation of the Culture Department and going into the schools. Our schedule is about to be launched. So we ask that MP Brison cease and desist with the detrimental comments about our foundation.
We also ask again for a meeting with the government (COM or a Minister) to finally have an amicable discussion. There is plenty we have to say and plenty we can do together. The secretariat of COM can consider this an official request for said meeting.
Carnival 2023 is the first "normal" Carnival we will have since 2019. We are excited about it and we are moving forward.
President - SCDF
St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation