WE REJECT THE IDEA OF TTCIC

 Friday 1st December 2012

The Honourable Ms Kamla Persad-Bissessar
The Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago
The Office of the Prime Minister
St Clair
Port of Spain

Dear Honourable Prime Minister,

It has come to our attention that the Ministry of Trade along with the Ministry of Finance has instructed The Trinidad and Tobago Film Company (TTFC) to meet with the Minister of Finance (Corporation Sole) immediately to have its named changed to that of The Trinidad and Tobago Creative Industries Company (TTCIC) thus effectively winding up the TTFC and cementing the process of forming the super-company TTCIC.

REASONS NOT TO PROCEED:

We the undersigned do strongly urge the government NOT to proceed with the former action for the following reasons:

  1. Such an action is a clear breach of faith by the Minister of Trade who at our first and only consultation agreed to continue consultations with the sector as regards the nature and fate of the TTFC and the idea of the TTCIC. All subsequent attempts to engage such a meeting with the Minister have failed.
  2. We also note through correspondence sent to us that the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services Authority (TTCSI) has been instructed by said Ministry to coordinate ‘consultations’ with stakeholders on the forming of cultural sector ‘advisory committees’ for the TTCIC. This came despite the fact that there was near unanimous rejection of the governance model of the TTCIC at the ‘consultation’ with its idea of a businessman-led and weighted board along with a hand-picked CEO running the company in charge of the Creative Sector with cultural industry stakeholders reduced to ‘advisory committees’ with zero executive and policy making powers. This TTCSI initiative then is a clear breach of trust and bargaining protocol

STAKEHOLDERS DO HEREBY REJECT THE FOLLOWING:

It seems abundantly clear that the government is moving ahead with haste to unilaterally wrap up the Sector-created, government special-purpose companies TTENT & TTFC- despite promises to the contrary. We now must make abundantly clear to the Minister and the government the following:

  1. The Creative and Cultural Sector rejects outright the idea of the TTCIC as an umbrella company of T&T’s Creative Sector bodies
  2. We reject the process of non-consultation which has typified the way that the government has conducted this action– starting with a unilateral decision made in Cabinet on September 2012, followed by the inclusion of the decision in the October-read Budget, and then followed by Parliamentary and Senate approval despite industry rejection and concerns, and then followed by stated deadlines to have implemented by October with no stakeholder consultation.
  3. We reject the idea of implementation of any sector-wide programme that has not withstood a process of sector-wide consultation, public scrutiny, and that does not adhere to the basic tenets of good governance- due-diligence, transparency, accountability, and value-for-money
  4. We reject the idea of a generalised company subsuming different forms of cultural practise as the wrong developmental model for this stage of our industrial development. Instead we advocate for specialised companies with specialised boards, CEOs, and line staffs with sector specific mandates and targets.
  5. We reject the notion of businessmen running the Creative and Cultural Sector- but not the idea of entrepreneurship. If the government is interested in creating a lateral company in charge of entrepreneurship within the sector we would be happy to collaborate with the government in the formation of such an entity.
  6. We reject the names floated thus far as chairman and board members of the TTCIC- bar the 2 senior stakeholders– Christopher Laird and Rubadiri Victor. This is not personal, but the other individuals lack the sector knowledge of the 9 segments of the sector and the entrepreneurial requirements of same
  7. We reject the idea of the stakeholders of the Creative and Cultural sector being reduced to ‘advisory committees’ with no executive and policy making power in our own sector
  8. We reject the model of governance suggested for the TTCIC with a Ministry-appointed businessman-led board who appoints its hand-chosen CEO and where the stakeholders are reduced to advisory committees
  9. We reject the names that we have heard floated thus far for CEOs of this said company which include Mr Nirad Tewarie of TTCSI and Mr Chanderdatsingh of IvestTT- not for any personal reasons- but as professionally lacking in sector knowledge
  10. We reject the manner in which the government is forcing this idea upon the Sector with breaches of consultative practise, arbitrary deadlines, and lack of reciprocity. Not one letter from the board of TTFC to the Minister of Trade has ever been replied to. And to date the Minister of Planning- who has had direct oversight over the Diversification Agenda of the Creative and Cultural Sector and who would have sanctioned the replacement of the 129 line-items and the idea of a National Arts Council by the idea of the TTCIC- has not seen it fit to dignify this entire scenario and repeated requests for comment with a reply.

This entire scenario is playing out against a backdrop of national scandals where the costs of breaches of good governance are clear: the CLICO and HCU scandal; the Wayne Kublalsingh Highway Re-Route movement; the Offshore Patrol Vessel Scandal; the Calder Hart/Construction industry scandals; and others. There has also been near unanimous rejection of the idea of the TTCIC and the governmental process by the public, commentators and stakeholders through the media with: 5 mainline editorials against the TTCIC; columnist such as Raymond Ramcharitar, Martin Daly, Sunity Maharaj, Attilah Springer, letter writers, radio hosts and call-in programs, and more speaking out against it. It was in fact this groundswell of opprobrium which forced the government to stage the one ‘consultation’ it has held thus far on Friday 23rd November 2012.

 

THE FACTS OF THE MATTER:

Again we want to state the following facts:

  1. The TTCIC has replaced the 129 line items negotiated by the Creative Sector in the first 2 Peoples Partnership National Budgets. These 129 line items represent 129 programmes and projects submitted by the Cabinet-appointed Expert Panel for the Creative and Cultural Sector in 2011 and the collective Creative Sector in 2010. These 129 line items were official government line items in the 2010 and 2011 Budgets approved by Cabinet and the Minister of Finance; they were then Parliamentary and Senate approved; they were then worked on for 4 months by the Ministry of Finance’s Implementation Unit under Mr Hospedales; they were then approved for Implementation by Cabinet Notes. They conform to the exact line items as stated in the People Partnership Manifesto of 2010. Items from this bundle have been repeatedly championed in public by the Minister of Planning like in his speech made at the launch of the National Independence Logo at Queen’s Hall on 26th June 2012.
  2. The 129 line items were consulted and negotiated on by over 18 stakeholder groups and over 45 senior stakeholders over the course of months and culminated a process of consultation which took years and hundreds of consultations.
  3. In the Implementation Unit the 129 line-items went through the most rigorous of feasibility testing and were mapped in great technical detail for roll-out month by month and eventually received the Ministry of Finance’s sanction. The Creative Sector programme was the ONLY national sector to submit itself to such scrutiny.
  4. The TTCIC which is being rushed for implementation has received zero consultation and to date has no stated or publicly revealed plans or project documents with the requisite due diligence and research…
  5. Every single one of the aborted 129 line items have research and evidence to back up their assertions and are all derived from international Best-Practice models- especially the Arts Council which the TTCIC is overtly replacing as over-sighting body of the Sector. The 2 international Best Practice institutions for sector oversight- the British and Canadian Arts Councils are in contact with ACTT and sector stakeholders and are waiting on us to collaborate on the roll-out of our institutional strengthening of the Sector by the implementation of a National Arts Council. There is no international Best Practise model for the TTCIC, no research or evidence to back up its institutional and governance model, nor any logic as to why this company should take precedence over the 129 line items thus far approved
  6. The Expert Panel 2011 was Cabinet-appointed to represent the distillation of the best-thinking available on the Creative and Cultural sector
  7. Government’s faith in these programmes was so great that $100 million was set aside for these programmes in the 2011/12 Budget in the PSIP. $50 million was set aside in the Ministry of Planning under a special section for the Expert Panel and $50 million was set aside for line items in various Ministerial spends. None of these projects were implemented- just as no projects were implemented in financial year 2010- and instead the Minister of Planning admitted in an argument with the ACTT President that the $100 million was used for the 50th Independence Anniversary celebrations!!!

SECTOR DEMANDS:

This state of affairs is unacceptable to Creative and Cultural stakeholders and as such these are our demands:

  1. Full restitution of the 129 line items stricken from the National Budget approved in Budgets 2010 and 2011 by the March 2013 drawn-down date for the 2nd tranche and re-tweaking of Budget 2012/13 items.
  2. Full re-instatement of the $100 million that was misappropriated in Budgetary year 2011/12 for the roll-out of said line items- or a commensurate amount for the period
  3. Immediate movements by government to convene the National Arts Council as approved in the previous 2 Budgets. The Arts Council can be conceived of as an international Best-Practice arms-length company with a special relationship with the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism. A best-practice document is available and is in the possession of the Minister of Arts
  4. Immediate halting of moves to create the TTCIC without conclusion of sector consultations
  5. Immediate cessation of moves to wrap up TTFC, TTENT and the previously stated National Theatre Company as there is no need for the destruction of the brands and institutions of these companies
  6. Full reinstatement of the line-Budgets for the TTFC and TTENT as per their normal Budgetary allocations and/or the equitable splitting of monies as allocated to the TTCIC in the National Budget. As stated by Minister Bharath the allocation would be: $12 million for administrative overheads and $12 million for this year’s recurrent expenditure

REQUESTS FOR FULL-DISCLOSURE:

And in light of information which sector stakeholders are in possession of and all the rumours and inferences that swirl around the issues of the board-in-waiting of the TTCIC and stated and unstated agendas behind the creation of the TTCIC, we require full disclosure on the following:

  1. What is the connection between the TTCIC, TTCIC chairman-in-waiting Derek Chin, and the Invaders Bay project? Is the Invaders Bay Project supposed to form part of the agendas of the TTCIC and therefore the Creative and Cultural Sector?
  2. What is the connection between the TTCIC and the Film City in Caroni? What is the connection with this Film City and overarching plans to construct a Creative Industries Mega-Industrial Estate as proposed by InvestTT which would include Pan, Mas, and Fashion factories; an Animation lot; and a TV and Film Soundstage and lot?
  3. Where are the project documents, research, and feasibilities for these enterprises? Can we be immediately furnished with all documents so designated?
  4. Where are the lands upon which these enterprises are supposed to be constructed? Who owns this land? Have the requisite Environmental Impact Assessments been made for this property and project? Can we have full disclosure of all parties involved in this enterprise for this stated entrepreneurial thrust of the sector and the relocation and creation of plant and equipment associated with such?
  5. Who are the local business interests who are interested in investing in these enterprises?
  6. Who are the international business interests who are interested in investing in this- whether they be from the US, Canada, India, or elsewhere?
  7. What is the relationship of the TTCIC and stated plans for the Animation industry and plans by the UTT to acquire the Animae Caribe Festival from Camille Selvon Abraham (after threatening her job for running the festival and cutting her pay by 1/3 for continuing to stage the festival) and the simultaneous interest of InvestTT in her company Full Circle Animation?
  8. What is the connection between the TTCIC and the warehouse facility offered to Camille in Frederick Settlement in Caroni and plans for the Fashion and Film sector within the same warehouse facility?
  9. What exactly are the business plans that the TTCIC board-in-waiting and Ministers of Trade and Planning have for the sector?
  10. What are the names of all the local and international investors who are interested in the sector and what are their plans?

In light of all these outstanding questions, open disagreements, and rejection by the Sector of the TTCIC, and in light of the lack of forthcoming-ness of the government with any form of documentation, research, best-practice or feasibility on any one of its plans we again urge that government take this correspondence very seriously.

The Creative and Cultural Sector contains over 60,000 workers who are amongst the most visible citizens of Trinidad and Tobago locally and internationally. They are involved in the creation and sustenance of integral National Festivals which help accrue over $1.5 billion to the National economy. They are made up of large swathes of disenfranchised communities in free fall collapse who are leading the country in terms of criminal activity and delinquent behaviours. They are made up of treasured Elders from a Golden Age generation who are dying en masse without the requisite programmes of honouring, documentation, transmission, and institutionalisation- and who have enormous emotional connection to the population of the country… In light of all the aforesaid we urge government to think very carefully of its stated plans in going forward- especially in light of the fact that its plans contradict the plans of all the previously stated populations and demographics, and because the TTCIC supplants all the carefully thought out plans to rehabilitate and release the creative and entrepreneurial energies of these volatile populations

We are requesting an urgent meeting with the Honourable Prime Minister and the requisite Ministers for an urgent resolution in this matter.

Thank you again for your kindest and urgent attentions in this matter.

Yours with Respect,

………………………………………………………

RUBADIRI VICTOR

President

ACTT

1-868-797-0949

 

CC: The Honourable Minister of Trade Mr Vasant Bharath

       The Honourable Minister of Planning Mr Bhoe Tewarie

       The Honourable Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Mr Lincoln Douglas

 

 

 

………………………………………………………

SHELDON MANOO

Vice President

ACTT

President

Fusion and Rock Musicians Movement (FARMM)

 

………………………………………………………

ANDRE REYES

Public Relations

ACTT

President

Art Teachers Association of T&T

 

………………………………………………………

GERGORY FERNANDEZ

Executive Officer

ACTT

 

 

………………………………………………………

FABIEN ALFONSO

Secretary

ACTT

President

Recording Industry Association of T&T (RIATT)

 

………………………………………………………

AKINS VIDALE

Corporate Secretary

FITUN

 

………………………………………………………

HAZEL BROWN

Director

Network of NGO’s for the Advancement of Women

 

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Posted on December 10, 2012, in Press Release and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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