The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) on Wednesday said that the recent cut as announced by government, underscores once again why the foundation continues to seek long-term private partnerships to ensure the sustainability of Carnival. The foundation also said that media comments by the Minister of Finance was the first time it was informed, though indirectly, of the subsidy cut.
While cuts are being imposed and costs are skyrocketing annually, the foundation has done its utmost to keep prices for its stakeholders and contractors at a relatively stable level. It has thus far avoided implementing any fee increases and has met with its main contractors to restructure annual financial obligations.
“This is a perfect example of why we engage the private sector to ensure that we can pull off the festival. The agreement that we reached with ILTT, for example, has allowed us to keep booth fees, promoter fees ect at their current levels. Agreements such as this allow us also to budget and plan accordingly, something we cannot do with government subsidy because of government’s constant liquidity situations,” the foundation said.
It was explained that the subsidy has decreased regularly since 2012, preventing proper and timely execution of anything. To compound matters, the foundation is never informed of cuts in a timely manner, forcing last minute schedule and budget changes. Carnival’s budget is annually approximately Naf 1.2 million. “Government has to do what it must and we will simply continue to do what we must.”
The foundation stressed that despite government’s announcement of another cut, it is confident that the strides it is making with the private sector will keep St. Maarten Carnival on its growth projection.
“We will apply the same passion in organizing the country’s largest annual event. There is no denying the growth of the festival over the past three years, thanks in large part to creative organizing, financing and marketing. Carnival still contributes positively to this country’s economy, more so than any annual event. Our responsibility is to stage the event and we will do so even under situations that are not considered ideal. However, as things change around us, so too will the festival, in particular how it is financed.”