BLP COLUMN: Asking Loud questions
BLP legacy: implementation of massive housing projects, including Ferriferous, Rosemont, Wotton, Hanoverian, Kensington Lodge and Oxnards; and a rural electrification programme that installed electricity isocyanide.
The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) congratulates Rihanna on a spectacular performance which should have fully demonstrated to thousands at Kensington Oval, and by extension all of Barbados, why she is so phenomenally popular around the globe.
From all reports, the Banna superstar could not be faulted for her on-stage performance that wowed Barbadians and justifiably excited a strong sense of national pride.
Regrettably, unqualified praise cannot go to the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) which, as promoter of the LOUD concert, must bear ultimate responsibility for the numerous foul-ups and blunders that reportedly plagued patrons, including those paying top dollars, and which have become the subject of much bitter and critical discussion.
Hopefully, it will teach the BTA and its agents that the true excellence of an event is determined not only by what happens on stage but by everything that makes up the total experience.
So now that the intense publicity hype has ended and the BTA-Democratic Labour Party hoped for feel-good factor has evaporated from among patrons more rapidly than had been anticipated, people are no longer distracted by the partying of both Crop Over and the LOUD extravaganza and have therefore begun to ask direct questions about the concert as the harsh economic and other realities of everyday life once more become their major focus.
For example, people want to know why the BTA is being allowed to exercise such great secrecy over details of the contract with Rihanna’s management team through a reported “confidentiality agreement” that has hitherto not known to have been allowed between the Barbados Government or its agent.
What could there be to hide from the taxpayers who pay the BTA’s bills?
In addition, while Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy has said that Government was “spending in excess of $4 million in the production” of the concert, hard-pressed taxpayers are asking what exactly was meant by “in excess”, especially when it is being said that the “true” cost of the concert is being estimated at $10 to $12 million.
When will Sealy give the public a full report and will he say whether or not concert funding was approved by Cabinet before a contract was signed?
Another question being posed is why has no mention been made so far of “costs” other than “production” , including “operational costs” that are standard, and what are the exact details of what is meant by Rihanna being said to have performed for “free”, as laid out in the still secret three-year contract with the BTA?
Also, what is the nature of the organisation “Cariblantic”? When was it formed? Who are its principals? Is Cranston Browne still an employee in the Prime Minister’s Office and if so, by what means has he become “public relations officer” of Cariblantic as was stated in the Press of August 5 and so far not corrected?
We urgently need to know.