Tuco wins lawsuit over Tobago calypso funding

Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 14:45

The To­ba­go Zone of the Trin­ba­go Uni­fied Ca­lyp­so­ni­ans’ Or­gan­i­sa­tion (Tu­co) has won its law­suit against the To­ba­go House of As­sem­bly and To­ba­go Fes­ti­vals Com­mit­tee (TFC) chair­man George Lea­cock.

Jus­tice Jacque­line Wil­son on Thurs­day or­dered the THA and Lea­cock to meet with of­fi­cials of Tu­co’s To­ba­go Zone to fi­nalise bud­get pro­pos­als for the Car­ni­val sea­son.

The THA has been giv­en un­til Feb­ru­ary 19 to dis­burse funds to the ca­lyp­so body.

Tu­co was rep­re­sent­ed by at­tor­neys Mar­tin George, while the THA and TFC were rep­re­sent­ed by Kim­ba An­der­son and Les­ley Gray.

Dur­ing the hear­ing, the role of the TFC and its rel­e­vance to the leg­isla­tive role of Tu­co was raised. George ar­gued that the ca­lyp­so events man­aged by the Tu­co To­ba­go Zone are na­tion­al com­pe­ti­tions, not To­ba­go Fes­ti­vals and do not come un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of the TFC.

George al­so ques­tioned the le­gal sta­tus of the TFC. He had pre­vi­ous­ly chal­lenged the THA to pro­duce doc­u­men­tary ev­i­dence to show that the TFC is a legal­ly reg­is­tered en­ti­ty.

The meet­ing be­tween Tu­co and the THA was or­dered to take place at 9.30 am on Fri­day to fi­nalise Tu­co’s $1.9 mil­lion bud­get.

The mat­ter is set to be re­called in the court at 3.30 pm on Feb­ru­ary 20.

Com­ment­ing on the court’s rul­ing, George said, “To­day was an ex­cel­lent day be­cause I think the court had an im­me­di­ate grasp of the le­gal prin­ci­ples and con­cepts which we have es­poused, which are that Tu­co To­ba­go must have the au­ton­o­my and con­trol over the na­tion­al Car­ni­val ca­lyp­so events in To­ba­go.”

Ac­cord­ing to George, the pre­sid­ing judge un­der­stood that na­tion­al Car­ni­val ca­lyp­so events which Tu­co To­ba­go Zone man­ages are na­tion­al com­pe­ti­tions tak­ing place in the To­ba­go Zone and they are not “To­ba­go Fes­ti­vals” and, there­fore, Tu­co To­ba­go Zone and its events do not come un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of the TFC.

Pres­i­dent of Tu­co To­ba­go Zone, Ains­ley King, said his or­gan­i­sa­tion fol­lowed pro­to­col in its deal­ings with the TFC, by pre­sent­ing its bud­get to the THA since last No­vem­ber.

“To­day it was made clear what the pa­ra­me­ters are and Tu­co’s le­gal stand­ing was cleared up to­day so I ex­pect that as we move in­to the fu­ture, ca­lyp­so in To­ba­go will get that free­dom to ex­e­cute and cre­ate and get out of the thing what we choose to.”

Chair­man of the TFC George Lea­cock, in his re­sponse said that while he was un­able to com­ment on the “se­ri­ous civ­il mat­ters” which will be heard next week, he was look­ing for­ward to meet­ing with Tu­co.

“The court has or­dered that we meet with Tu­co to dis­cuss the fi­nanc­ing of the 2019 ca­lyp­so sea­son. We are very hap­py for that be­cause we have been ask­ing Tu­co since No­vem­ber to meet with us and have that dis­cus­sion.”

Reporter: Loyse Vincent