By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
ALTHOUGH it is well past the 21-day self-imposed deadline Bahamas National Festival Commission Chairman Paul Major gave for the release of Junkanoo Carnival revenue and economic impact figures, the data has yet to be released.
When contacted about this yesterday, Mr Major said the BNFC is not ready to release the report.
When pressed to give an exact date for the report’s release, he said he didn’t want to put a date or time on it, but vowed that the waiting was almost over.
“It would be best to say soon,” said Mr Major.
He added: “When we are done with the reports we will put all the information out there, but we aren’t ready yet.”
Meanwhile, FNM Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest stressed yesterday that the country is no closer to determining the “true success” of the inaugural Junkanoo Carnival because of “repeated delays” in the release of the revenue and economic impact report.
Mr Turnquest said he does not understand the reason for the delay because from all indications from Mr Major, the commission had been “keeping up to date with all the bookkeeping and accounting” and seemed well on its way to a finalised report.
Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe yesterday confirmed that the government had not received the report from the Festival Committee, but was expecting the report to be completed in the coming days.
“When he (Mr Major) is through, we expect copies, but he is still working to complete everything,” said the West End and Bimini MP. “It isn’t ready yet, but myself, the Office of the Prime Minister and the culture minister are all expecting copies when he is through.”
BNFC officials have given little insight on how much was spent and earned from the festival held last month. The event was staged over two days in Grand Bahama in April and from May 7-9 in New Providence.
Mr Major had predicted $50m to $60m in revenue generation, with organisers forecasting an economic boost for the country resulting from the significant number of tourists travelling to the Bahamas for the event.
According to Mr Turnquest, the lack of information signifies that “something is clearly off.”
He added: “If there was proper accounting done, proper management at the top and proper organisation throughout the event, this process would be going a lot smoother. The fact of the matter remains, they had issues. There was a lack of professionalism that existed to some extent and this is the end result. There were some indications that during the event there were some internal control issues.”
“Earlier there was some improprieties,” he said referring to delays in payments to several Bahamian entertainers who performed during the festival’s song competition.
Earlier this month, The Tribune reported that the top three finishers in the Music Masters song competition: Sammi Star, Lady E and Colyn McDonald had not received the more than $40,000 in prize money they won at the festival.
Meanwhile, BNFC officials have also been embroiled in issues with food vendors, some who claimed that they barely broke even or lost cash during the event.
The commission first indicated that it would reimburse some vendors their booth rent with some consideration to the loss of goods, but Mr Major has adjusted that position, saying recently that payments to vendors would only be made if the money were available.
Last month, the BNFC released a statement appealing to festival workers for their understanding as officials were processing payments for them “in compliance with standard government procedures”.
Mr Turnquest said of these examples: “Some have been corrected to this point and probably that is the reason for this current delay in the financial report. If those problems existed and needed to be corrected, maybe they are working to show that in their report.
“But it is time for some clarity on this carnival matter,” he added.
The government initially said it would cost $9 million to stage the event.