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Minister of Culture refutes claim of price discrimination

The Battle of the Drums Secretariat had expressed upset and outrage at the decision by the National Sports Council to charge them five hundred dollars per day for use of the Punta Gorda Sports Complex plus ten percent of their revenue made during the event.  Chairman of the Secretariat, Darius Avila believes that they should not be charged that much since the monies made are going back into community activities.  It turns out that the Minister of Culture, Patrick Faber heard the cries of the Secretariat and struck a deal with the group.  Minister Faber says, however, this year’s deal is not an agreement for next year of the years to follow as maintaining venues for events such as this one, requires finances.

Patrick Faber, Minister of Education: “They did reach out to me and in fact I had made a decision even before their release was sent out on Tuesday morning. We had made a decision to cut some kind of slack and in fact up to yesterday we were still negotiating what is the best package that we can give but that aside I want people to understand that we have wonderful facilities across this country. The Battle of the Drums is a money making venture, despite the fact that the proceeds are used for helping in the community. There are basic costs that the sports council has to incur in order to secure the facility, in order to clean the facility, in order to prepare the facility. You know we have wonderful wooden courts in that facility and in Dangriga and here in Belize City so there has to be the putting down of the carpetting of the court there are lots of expenses that go into using a facility and that is why we have to have costs. It is not out of any kind of malice towards anybody there are fees that we have to pay if we want to continue to have a great facility there in Punta Gorda so to say that the sports council was trying to price discriminate is absolute nonsense. But in a spirit of trying to work together I intervened indeed and when I was contacted directly, Mr.Avila has never contacted me, it was Mr.Luke Palacio who is the treasurer of the Battle of the Drums that contacted me and I said fine let’s talk about it. Even further up to yesterday evening I discussed an even further discount but you see when you open the doors wide for this everybody wants to access the facilities for free and then there seems to be a position of feeling entitled because you are doing a kind of cultural activity. If you are charging at the door then give to the facility so that it can be maintained.  Absolutely not in fact there was no such agreement and that is why I believe the Battle of the Drums people feel that there is some entitlement. Last year when the facility was brand new you will remember it was the same time of my plane accident I was going down there to open the facility and we had scheduled a previous opening that didn’t materialize and it was the same time that the Battle of the Drums wanted to use it so they even used the facility before it was officially opened and we didn’t make a charge then. So it is really unfair, the same sports council, the same director, the same minister so it is really unfair for that kind of criticism to be levied when in fact all that we are trying to do is to ensure that that facility is kept in wonderful condition for the use to come down the road for many. There’s been no agreement for it to be a standard thing for next year and we can understand that the event is still a fledgling event meaning while it’s growing it is young in it’s years of existence so we believe and we hope that can remedy itself down the road and I’m not going to make a pronouncement- next year we’ll see what will happen. You cannot make a blanket statement like that because again it’s going to kick the flood gates even wider.”