The handling of the situation by government concerning popular but controversial Jamaican reggae artiste, Mr. Vegas has again put the administration in the limelight. Last week, the issue was about a “Gang of Four” inside the Cabinet and seven days later it was about the so-called “ban” imposed by the Ministry of Labour on the artiste from performing in the country.
Although the Minister of Culture, Karl Hood has cleared the air and informed the nation that the Vegas issue had nothing to do with banning foreign artistes from coming into Spice country. According to the minister, it had to do more or less with promoters not adhering to set guidelines by the Ministry of Labour for applying well in advance for work permits for these artistes.
THE NEW TODAY is satisfied that the promoter, Mr. Steve Duncan did apply for the work permit for the Jamaican artiste one month before the date of the show and not last week as suggested by Minister Hood. This newspaper has seen an official document with the letterhead of the Ministry of Labour indicating quite clearly that Mr. Duncan had applied for the work permit on January 28, 2010 and not just last week as stated by the minister.
There is undoubtedly some misunderstanding on the issue surrounding the application for the work permit for Mr. Vegas to perform at the Karma nightclub. Minister Hood should be big enough to apologise to Mr. Duncan if the error is made by himself personally or the relevant staffers at the Ministry of Labour. As a matter of fact, the minister should use the incident to determine whether there is an internal problem within the ministry that needs fixing urgently in order to provide better service to the people. Is it a case of civil servants not doing their work in an effort to embarrass the Minister?
Also, is it a question of the civil servants doing their work and the minister too busy with his schedule and not finding the time to stay on top of things placed on his desk for his attention? This newspaper is not in a position to pre-judge the issue.
However, the fact of the matter is that the promoter, Mr. Duncan submitted his application for the work permit one month ago and not last week as was made out by the Labour Minister. This kind of information could be damaging to Mr. Duncan and open him to possible lawsuits for incompetence by artistes. Can Mr. Duncan get back the monetary down payment that he would have advanced to Mr. Vegas to get him to commit to a contract to perform at his nightclub?
Suppose Mr. Vegas and his team get ahold of the statement made by Minister Hood in which he clearly sought to put the blame totally on the promoter for resulting in the Ministry of Labour turning down the request for the work permit on the grounds of late submission. And the irony of the situation is that the manner in which the issue has been handled has now turned into a political affair with even the church leaders getting involved.
THE NEW TODAY is not making any specific statement on the lyrical content of Mr. Vegas songs and whether he is suitable or unsuitable to perform in Grenada. As Minister Hood clearly stated, the issue surrounding Mr. Vegas had nothing to do with a ban on any foreign artiste from coming into the island to perform.
The system in the ministry has glitches and is not working properly. It needs fixing. It might be appropriate for the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Culture to come together and go back to the drawing board with all promoters to come up with a better road map for the way forward on shows involving foreign artistes. The left hand ought to know what the right hand is doing and vice-versa. After all, the government itself is committed to CSME and the free movement of professionals including those from the performing arts.
The government needs all the revenue it can get in these hard times whether at the point of entry on the St. George’s Port and or VAT that can be levied on promoters of shows involving acceptable foreign artistes.