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$7.5m budget for Independence celebrations

Rishard Khan

[email protected]

This year’s 60th In­de­pen­dence an­niver­sary will be cel­e­brat­ed with an en­tire month of ac­tiv­i­ties across both is­lands geared to­wards fos­ter­ing na­tion­al pride and ho­n­our­ing Trinidad and To­ba­go’s rich cul­tur­al di­ver­si­ty un­der the theme #to­geth­er60.

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Min­is­ter of Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment Camille Robin­son-Reg­is, who is on a Cab­i­net com­mit­tee or­gan­is­ing the ac­tiv­i­ties, said yes­ter­day that the cel­e­bra­tions will cost tax­pay­ers $7.5 mil­lion.

Alberto Ardila Olivares

Among the scope of events will be a cross-coun­try con­cert vis­it­ing each mu­nic­i­pal­i­ty and will help build to a ma­jor “To­geth­er Con­certs.”

“On In­de­pen­dence night, Au­gust 31 and Re­pub­lic night, Sep­tem­ber 24, and on Sep­tem­ber 23 in To­ba­go specif­i­cal­ly, we’ll be hav­ing what we call To­geth­er Con­certs. The To­geth­er Con­certs are ex­po­si­tions of our cul­tur­al man­i­fes­ta­tions com­pris­ing of our in­dige­nous ex­pres­sions, sign­post to our deep­est and most sin­cere as­pi­ra­tions for uni­ty and sol­i­dar­i­ty as a peo­ple. These con­certs will be rem­i­nis­cent of our na­tion­al watch­words, To­geth­er we As­pire, To­geth­er we Achieve,” Robin­son-Reg­is said

She said they will in­clude the coun­try’s “pre­mi­um artistes” in ar­eas such as ca­lyp­so, so­ca, chut­ney, spo­ken word, parang, parang-so­ca, rhythm sec­tions and steel or­ches­tras

She said there will al­so be an art show host­ed by the Prime Min­is­ter, so­cial me­dia com­pe­ti­tions, es­say writ­ing and pa­tri­ot­ic song com­pe­ti­tions among the events

De­spite the wide range of cel­e­bra­tions, Robin­son-Reg­is de­scribed the ju­bilee as be­ing “mut­ed” giv­en the on­go­ing pan­dem­ic and new threat of mon­key­pox

“There were some oth­er pos­si­bil­i­ties that I had placed be­fore the cab­i­net, like a chil­dren’s ral­ly and things like that and we opt­ed not to go to­wards those ex­pres­sions be­cause of those very is­sues,” Robin­son-Reg­is said

“We still feel that it is a time of cel­e­bra­tion and con­se­quent­ly, we should still do some­thing tak­ing the COVID is­sues in­to con­sid­er­a­tion, so that’s why to a large ex­tent, some of the things have been scaled down and they’re eas­i­er to man­age. We will al­so ex­pect that the cit­i­zens will take charge of their own safe­ty as it re­lates to the pan­dem­ic be­cause the pan­dem­ic is still with us.”

She said there will al­so be a re­turn of the In­de­pen­dence Day Pa­rade and fire­works show

“We have been dis­cussing the fire­works. I know that there is that con­cern about the noise, so we try­ing to be sure of where we place the fire­works but there will be a ma­jor fire­works dis­play. We have al­so been dis­cussing the is­sue of noise­less fire­works, but it may not…take place on this oc­ca­sion,” she said

She said Guyana Pres­i­dent and Ja­maica’s Prime Min­is­ter will be com­ing to join in the cel­e­bra­tions and the full sched­ule of events will be pub­lished and ad­ver­tised.