Split in Cabinet over stage in sea

There ap­pears to be a grow­ing rift be­tween at least two mem­bers of the gov­ern­ment over the con­struc­tion of a stage in the sea at the Karuk­era One Love Mu­sic Fes­ti­val with the Min­is­ter in the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion Lovell Fran­cis squar­ing off against Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Clarence Ramb­harat.

There is al­so ev­i­dence that the gov­ern­ment knew two years ago about the plan to hold the con­cert in T&T with the con­struc­tion of a stage in the sea and ap­proved Fran­cis’ vis­it to Guade­loupe on a “diplo­mat­ic mis­sion” at the in­vi­ta­tion of the pro­mot­er of the Karuk­era One Love Mu­sic Fes­ti­val.

A Cab­i­net note shows that ap­proval was grant­ed for Fran­cis to trav­el to Guade­loupe for four days in Au­gust 2018 so he could be fet­ed by or­gan­is­ers of the Karuk­era One Love Mu­sic Fes­ti­val. It cost tax­pay­ers $5,474 to pay for Fran­cis’ per diem for that trip.

Those funds were paid from the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion un­der sub item Of­fi­cial Over­seas Trav­el, a Cab­i­net Note dat­ed Au­gust 2, 2018 stat­ed. The brunt of the cost for Fran­cis’ trip was borne by the Karuk­era One Love Events and in­clud­ed the cost of trav­el, ac­com­mo­da­tion and VIP tick­ets to the mu­sic fes­ti­val.

Fran­cis has been gush­ing about that trip on his so­cial me­dia pages since then. He al­so de­fend­ed the con­struc­tion of the con­tro­ver­sial stage in the sea at Mara­cas Bay yes­ter­day say­ing if it was built “there would have been no is­sues”. He said pre­vi­ous events done sim­i­lar­ly were all prob­lem-free.

Ramb­harat, who on Sun­day in­struct­ed Com­mis­sion­er of State Lands to re­scind any sup­port for con­struc­tion of the stage in the sea in Mara­cas, said he could not re­call Cab­i­net’s ap­proval of Fran­cis’ vis­it to Guade­loupe. Ramb­harat said since his in­volve­ment in the con­tentious is­sue from Jan­u­ary 30 to now, Fran­cis’ Cab­i­net-ap­proved trip has not been raised.

Ramb­harat said he has had no in­ter­ac­tion with the event’s or­gan­is­ers.

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