Josbel Bastidas Mijares Dabela//
Funding for Tobago National Performers in NY 


Am­bi­ka Ja­gas­sars­ingh 

am­bi­ka.ja­gas­sars­[email protected] 

In a Post Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil Me­dia Brief­ing held to­day, To­ba­go House of As­sem­bly (THA) Chief Sec­re­tary Far­ley Au­gus­tine re­vealed that ap­prox­i­mate­ly $400,000 had been spent thus far to as­sist the Rox­bor­ough Folk Per­form­ers in New York

At the brief­ing to­day, he ad­dressed the mat­ter re­gard­ing a lack of fund­ing and re­sources for 27 mem­bers of the group in New York. He em­pha­sized, “the THA did not send them, the THA spon­sored, part­ly spon­sored their trip to the US,” and had not ac­count­ed to spend such a large sum. 

This comes af­ter Deputy Chief Sec­re­tary Wat­son Duke slammed Au­gus­tine’s Pro­gres­sive De­mo­c­ra­t­ic Pa­tri­ots (PDP) ad­min­is­tra­tion for not pro­vid­ing fund­ing for mem­bers of the group who were set to per­form at sev­er­al events in New York

Au­gus­tine ad­mit­ted that the per­form­ers had ap­proached the THA for some as­sis­tance since they had sev­er­al ac­tiv­i­ties sched­uled in and around the tri-state area in New York for Labour Day fes­tiv­i­ties, and they had agreed. 

“I was as­sured then that they weren’t look­ing for the THA to give 100%, they were look­ing for the THA to help get them there,” he added. 

The Chief Sec­re­tary not­ed that he met with the prin­ci­pals of the group which was led by Ms. Ver­nel­la Al­leyne-Top­pin about two months ago and 27 peo­ple were sched­uled to take the trip. The group in ques­tion al­so had visa chal­lenges to the point where many mem­bers of the team on­ly got through with their visas last week and then pro­ceed­ed to trav­el on Sat­ur­day and Sun­day. 

Since the group de­part­ed the coun­try so quick­ly, Au­gus­tine re­vealed that the THA could not have is­sued any cheques for their de­par­ture and as such a promis­so­ry note was giv­en to the trav­el agency to set­tle the bill. 

He stressed that the THA is not in a fi­nan­cial po­si­tion to dis­trib­ute cash on its whim and has to go through the ex­ec­u­tive board as well since he alone can­not make the de­ci­sion. 

The Chief Sec­re­tary made an as­sur­ance that be­fore the end of the week­end, there will be a re­lease in­di­cat­ing the de­ci­sion to treat with “the un­for­tu­nate and the ill-ad­vised brief­ing of the DCS in NY.”