Premier and Minister for Finance Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith announced that although there are contributing reasons to the non payment of the entertainers who performed at last year’s Emancipation Festival the situation is coming to an end and the artists should be paid soon.
During his 21 January press conference Premier Smith insisted that the entertainers and other persons with bills from last festival will be paid: “The bills for the persons who were involved in festival – those who gave services, goods, or whatever, those bills have been entered into the system and those persons will be paid shortly.”
When asked about the commitment to pay that Government made in 2015, Premier Smith acknowledged the promise and explained: “There is always a commitment to pay all bills, sometimes it’s not to pay a bill immediately, but we always as a government make sure that those people who are owed are paid.”
“Sometimes it is necessary to look at what the bills are and where they are coming from and the contents of the bill and then make a decision about payment,” the BVI Leader added.
For some months now, local entertainers who participated in the 2015 Festival have been complaining in the media that they are yet to receive payment for their performance.
Sub-Committee Member Comments on the Matter
Two days before the Premier held his press conference a member of a Festival and Fairs Sub-Committees spoke in support of the musicians who are publicly expressing frustration over the fact that they have not been paid for 2015 Emancipation Festival performance.
The matter was mentioned by the Festival Sub-Committee member on the 19 January edition of the Speak out BVI radio program. During the broadcast the Sub-Committee member said: “I have been a member of a Festival Sub-Committee for the last 12 years and I want the public to know that this is something that has been going on for the last 12 years; where every time Festival comes the next year people are still waiting to get paid.”
“I think the time has come for this to stop, because you know if you have a ticket for the police for a seatbelt or something and it goes in Court the Magistrate will tell you (pay) forthwith. So when you work for Festival normally I don’t think people have a problem to wait; but I’m thinking for a next year to roll over its too long.”
He said that he is supportive of the musicians making public requests for their money: “I don’t have a problem when people make noise for their money, when you work you are supposed to get paid because when you owe government, government wants you pay. When you go the Court it’s forthwith and if you can’t pay it’s Balsam Ghut you’re going so I am in favor.”
“I am an NDP from my heart, but I am thinking the Government needs to come out and make some kind of statement; and make some kind of effort to pay because when you work you want pay…I don’t think now is the time to make no statement– now is the time to pay,” he added.