By Loshaun Dixon –
(SKN Observer) Call it governmental bureaucracy or just crossed wires, but conflicting reports on the funding for Carnival was due to the Prime Minister and Carnival Chairman speaking about two completely different measures.
Chairman of the National Carnival Committee Noah Mills has finally cleared the matter indicating that he and the Prime Minister were speaking about two different budgets.
Last week in an interview with WINN FM Mills was quoted by that media house as saying that the committee the Committee would be working with a reduced budget this year.
However later in the week the at his most recent press conference Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis the Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris, who is also the Minister of Finance, indicated that no such cuts were discussed at their estimates meeting, stating in fact there is set to be an increase for the budget for carnival.
Dr, Harris also slammed the reports of any cuts as “malicious and fake news.”
The Prime Ministers response however sparked confusion to many in the public with the contradicting statements.
As it transpired both statements are correct. The federal government sits regularly and they go through what is called estimates fiscal planning for it to provide and table the budget year end for the subsequent year.
Mills explained in every single sitting there is a discussion about what allocation will be made specifically by the Ministry of finance and approved for use in different areas.
He added when his committee came into office in September 2015 they met with the necessary authorities and asked for a prior budget for carnival as well as prior financial statements.
“Unfortunately we were unable to procure same and we were told that there were none directly available,” Mills said.
He noted following that they gathered the necessary information and created a operational budget.
“There are two different budgets that must be considered here. There is a budget that is presented and approved by the Ministry of Finance and in that there is a specific budget being allotted for Carnival
That figure to the best of my knowledge has remained constant across the three carnivals we have prepared for.”
The Carnival Chair added that the Prime Minister was correct in his remarks saying it has not decreased because he was referring to the fiscal budget.
“He went to say that actually it is even being moved to increase it and that is also correct because in October of 2015 we presented an operational budget to the Ministry of Culture which was then tabled as a cabinet submission and they are seeing that this budget allocated by the government is not sufficient to support.
’So for the three years 2015, 2016 and 2017 the current Carnival Committee has given an operational budget to the necessary authorities.
He noted they have had reason to reduce our operational budget. “The first years even though the budget that was held constant when we submitted the expense report the federal government went out and made appropriations and gave carnival the money
“The next year there fiscal budget had the same ‘x’ dollars but when we gave them our operational budget.”
Mills then gave an example as to why the reduction in the operational budget was necessary.
“So faced with financial constraints, faced with advice to reshape and re-engineer and to cut some of the activities to better fit the fiscal model and the overall financial vision of the Federation we have had to cut our operational budget for carnival.
“The Caribbean Carnival Pageant would have been held under the auspices of the National Carnival Committee and we have had to privatise it…but if we privatised it and removed it from our budget have we not cut our operational budget?
He then reiterated his stance that both him and the Prime Minister’s statements were correct regarding the matter
“I will end by saying the Prime Minister was absolutely correct that the budget and fiscal estimate for the last three years has remained constant and because they are now armed with relevant, valid and accurate information…to say we need to move that constant budget and increase it.”
National Carnival or Sugar Mas is set to open on November 18 and run until January 2.