About $378,000 in prize money from the 2020 Downtown Carnival competition is yet to be paid.
On Saturday the TT Carnival Bands Association (TTCBA) sent out a release calling on Port of Spain Mayor Joel Martinez and the Downtown Carnival Committee to pay up.
"It is a firm belief of the members that the owner or administrator of the Downtown Carnival Competition has a moral obligation to pay prize money to winners of Carnival 2020."
TTCBA president Rosalind Gabriel told Newsday because of covid19 cancelling Carnival 2021, receiving the prize money would greatly help the struggling band leaders.
"These are people who have suffered because of the lack of Carnival. A year is more than enough time for prizes to be paid."
She said usually the Downtown Carnival winners receive the prize money after Easter or around June.
Mark Ayen's band DMC Kids Mas placed second and third on Carnival Saturday and Sunday in the large band category. He is not sure how much money he is going to get, but estimates he's owed over $1,500.
His band has been playing Downtown mas for more than ten years and he has never encountered this problem.
When contacted, Martinez said the city corporation usually receives a subvention from the National Carnival Committee (NCC), and 60 per cent of the subvention goes to the payment of prizes.
Usually Downtown Carnival receives the majority of the subvention at the beginning of Carnival and the rest at the end.
"We have not received that subvention which puts us in a difficult position."
He said, usually, the mayor's office gets requests from various advertising companies to advertise throughout the city. The money is used to assist in the running of Downtown Carnival.
"NCC took it upon themselves in promoting Carnival to approach sponsors to adorn the city with advertising, which conflicted with the advertising done by the corporation."
He said a meeting in early February 2020 was requested by NCC to determine the way forward for advertising. NCC and Downtown Carnival normally don't have advertising meetings. The City Corporation would handle the advertising in Port of Spain.
Martinez said there was no discussion about the subvention at the advertising meeting.
"When we discovered that no subvention was forthcoming, we inquired about it. We found out that NCC made a decision not pay the corporation subvention.
He said the NCC made that decision based on a conversation that happened at that advertising meeting.
He said there was some confusion and when he called to check on the subvention cheque he was told it was cancelled, and the NCC no longer has money.
He has written to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts to get the issue rectified.
Newsday spoke with NCC CEO Colin Lucas who confirmed the cheque was cancelled. He declined to comment further, only to say the NCC will put out a statement soon.
NCC's chairman Winston "Gypsy" Peters said he would not like to discuss the NCC's matter with the mayor in public. He assured it would be sorted out.
"I prefer me and the mayor would work that out. We are going to work out that problem. I don't want to have that conversation in public."
Line Minster Randall Mitchell told Newsday via WhatsApp that he intends to call a meeting later this week with the NCC, TTCBA and representatives from the mayor's office to sort out the issue.