Trinidad and Tobago Chutney Soca Monarch 2014 is on the verge of being cancelled, as Southex Promotions CEO George Singh says the Government has not allocated any money towards prizes. Already facing a debt of $3.2 million from the 2013 competition, Singh said the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism has not provided the funds necessary to pay artistes nor issued any official statement on whether there will be sponsorship. At a press conference at his Independence Avenue, San Fernando office yesterday, Singh said in the 18 years the competition has been running, prize money has always come from the Government.
With the semifinals just two weeks away, Singh has withheld the names of the 35 semifinalists selected to perform at Rienzi Complex, Couva, because he is unsure whether the competition will go ahead. “Because of the relationship we have with our service providers and the artistes to a certain extent, they are prepared to go into the 2014 competition. But I can’t tell you that I am prepared to do that because at the end of the day we are two weeks away from semifinals,” he said. “Today I have no firm word from the Government on what the funding is. I have nothing in writing and I am not prepared to go down that road again where we find ourselves in a position.”
He said the show was on hold until further notice. In 2013, he said former Arts of Multiculturalism Minister Winston “Gypsy” Peters had promised $5 million to cover the cost of prizes but he only received a cheque for $1.8 million. He said several service providers are yet to be paid while last year’s winner, Raymond Ramnarine, is still owed $200,000 of his $1 million winnings.
Singh called on the Government to give a clear position on the contest so he could determine whether Chutney Soca Monarch should be taken out of Carnival.