THE Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation (TUCO) Tobago Zone has already received part of the money from the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) to carry on its Carnival 2019 events, and is expected to receive a second sum today.
Attorney for the zone, Martin George, confirmed that TUCO received a cheque for $800,000 from the THA on Tuesday and a second payment of $120,000, as ordered by the court, is expected to be paid today as the initial payment for TUCO’s calypso tents.
The zone and the THA are also to meet this morning to discuss the balance of TUCO's $827,000 calypso tent budget and to make an additional payment by Tuesday next week on whatever figure they have agreed on.
Earlier this month, the zone made good on its promise to take legal action against the Tobago Festivals Commission (TFC) over budgetary allocations and politically-motivated interference.
The TFC falls under the THA.
In a judicial review application, the Tobago Zone is seeking 12 declarations and four orders to direct the THA and the TFC’s chairman George Leacock against holding any parallel calypso tent or event in Tobago for the 2019 Carnival season.
The TFC is being accused of seeking to undermine, hinder and usurp the role of TUCO.
The Tobago Zone also asked that the THA release budgetary funding for its 2019 Carnival activities, consistent with previous years’ budgetary allocations. The Tobago Zone is represented by attorney Martin George, who, in the application, said any action taken by the THA to encroach on the TUCO Act or a 1997 Cabinet policy governing Carnival interests groups, including TUCO and its zones, would be illegal, illegitimate and ultra vires the Constitution of TT.
An injunction had been granted by Justice Jacqueline Wilson who ordered the THA and the TFC’s chairman George Leacock to meet with the zone to finalise budget proposals for Carnival 2019 events.
The THA and TFC are represented by Kimba Anderson and Lesley Gray.
In a sitting late Wednesday in the Tobago High Court, it was also ordered that the THA produce its executive council minutes detailing the formation of the Tobago Festivals Commission.
The zone’s court action said the TFC has acted as an intermediary in the provision of budgetary funding to the zone which “has always been an unhappy state of affairs” as the Carnival calypso tents and competitions it manages are primarily geared for competition in the National Calypso Monarch finals and has never been a “Tobago Festival.”
“The established procedure for the provision of funding to the Tobago Zone was that the Tobago Zone would submit their budget to the THA, multiple rounds of discussions would be held, both parties would come to an agreed figure and funding would be provided in a timely manner, usually more than a month before the first calypso event was scheduled to begin.”
The application contends that the TFC began encroaching and trespassing on the zone’s powers from 2012, when it realised the commission was “gradually intruding on their boundaries” and began taking away the full allocation to which it had become accustomed to getting, limiting its ability to run its affairs independently.
The TFC and THA were accused of the politicisation of calypsonians and the artform “where the THA literally has many calypsonians on the island “singing for their supper”, because it’s always understood that if the THA does not like your song, you won’t get paid,” the action said.