Dr Lovell Francis responds to Guardian headline

Date: 
Wednesday, February 19, 2020 - 14:15

Min­is­ter in the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, Dr Lovell Fran­cis, is deny­ing any split in the Cab­i­net over the con­struc­tion of a stage in the sea, for the Karuk­era One Love Beach Fes­ti­val.

 

Ac­cord­ing to a Guardian Me­dia re­port which cites Cab­i­net notes, the min­is­ter met with Karuk­era or­ga­niz­ers back in 2018, while on an of­fi­cial trip to Guade­loupe.

How­ev­er, in re­sponse to the ar­ti­cle, Dr Fran­cis de­nies ever meet­ing with the or­ga­niz­ers.

He says last year, an ed­u­ca­tion trip to Guade­loupe mor­phed in­to a cul­tur­al ex­change and it was the first time he had ever gone to Karuk­era’s event. Pri­or to this, the min­is­ter says, he knew noth­ing about the event but saw a great tourism prod­uct for Trinidad and To­ba­go.

“I saw a prod­uct that could come to Trinidad and we would have some in­vest­ments here. But what I al­so saw was a coun­try that is yearn­ing for a stronger cul­tur­al and eco­nom­ic tie, which would be mu­tu­al­ly ben­e­fi­cial,” Min­is­ter Fran­cis ex­plains.

“So I thought per­haps this could come to Trinidad. They said they would be go­ing to Paris late last year, and they would con­sid­er com­ing here,” he re­vealed. “So I was aware of the idea of bring­ing the fes­ti­val here, and it’s not about a fete or a stage in wa­ter.”

Af­ter much pub­lic con­cern about the stage be­ing set up on Mara­cas Beach, Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Clarence Ramb­harat in­struct­ed the Com­mis­sion­er of State Lands to re­scind a Let­ter of Ap­proval. The or­ga­niz­ers have com­plied, and the stage is now be­ing set up on the shore­line.

Dr Fran­cis says he had no dis­agree­ment with Min­is­ter Ramb­harat over this mat­ter.

“Ac­tu­al­ly we spoke. There is no dis­agree­ment,” the min­is­ter re­ports. “If there is a pub­lic out­cry that be­comes a crescen­do, you are ob­lig­at­ed to step in and ex­er­cise some sort of au­thor­i­ty, and that is ex­act­ly what he did. It prompt­ed a dis­cus­sion, and now we have an agree­ment that is ben­e­fi­cial—and sat­is­fac­to­ry—to all sides.”

Dr Lovell Fran­cis says Min­is­ter Ramb­harat did the right thing.

Reporter: Bavita Gopaulchan

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