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Minister: $75,000 was in someone’s imagination

Minister: $75,000 was in someone’s imagination

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The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority (SVGTA) never paid EC$75,000 to Pyramid Entertainment Management Inc for the production of a promotional music video.{{more}}

Furthermore, according to Saboto Caesar, Minister of Tourism and Industry, the statement that the payment of a sum of $75,000 had been made, was made by the Honourable Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace.

This was the response of the Minister of Tourism to a question put forward by Eustace in Parliament on August 11.

Chief Executive Officer of the SVGTA Glen Beache, while speaking to members of the media at a press conference on July 20,

was responding to a question posed by Eustace during a New Democratic Party press conference on July 18, on the issue of the sum of $75,000 paid to the Barbadian company.

At that press conference, Beache said that the sum of money referred to was paid to an artist management company in Barbados to do a promotional music video for the ‘Beast Let Go,’ performed by Gamal ‘Skinny Fabulous’ Doyle.

The company subsequently released a statement that it was paid US$15,000, or the equivalent of EC$40,000, which meant that $35,000 was unaccounted for.

However, Caesar, in beginning his response, said that the CEO did not state in his press conference that the sum of $75,000 was paid to anyone and that it was Eustace who said that the amount paid was $75,000.

“I am going to place this issue to rest finally,” Caesar said.

“The nation has waited patiently for an answer and there are three pieces of evidence that I must share,” he continued.

SEARCHLIGHT was provided with copies of an invoice from Pyramid Entertainment Management Inc, and a cheque voucher and a management report from the from the SVGTA.

The amount, $40,753.50 for a ‘Skinny Fabulous’ video, appears in the management report; the cheque payment voucher, dated December 15, 2009, shows payment of $40,753.50, with a further $55.00 for bank fees, for a total of $40,808.50. Finally, the invoice states a cost of US$15,000 to cover the cost of directing, producing, shooting, editing and the distribution of the music video “Leggo De Beast”.

However, Eustace, despite the interjection of the Speaker of the House, urging him to get on with the supplementary question, maintained that the CEO did refer to the amount of $75,000 being spent and that Beache should have said from the beginning that it was only $40,000 that was spent on the project, and again asked the question what was the remaining $35,000 spent on.

Opposition Senator Anesia Baptiste later asked another question on the issue: whether or not the SVGTA Board had approved the sponsorship of the video.

This created a stir, with talk among members of Parliament, back and forth across the floor. All of this took place while Deputy Speaker David Browne was sitting in for Speaker Hendrick Alexander.

In his response, however, Caesar accused the opposition members of playing politics and making what he termed “heavy weather over the US$15,000 for a young man who has attempted to take the soca art to a different level.”

Baptiste rose on a point of order, saying that Caesar was “imputing improper motive to me as a member of the Opposition,” and called on the Deputy Speaker to rule on the point of order.

The Tourism Minister, however, maintained his position that he had a receipt for US$15,000 ($40,000) and that the $75,000 was only in somebody’s imagination.

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