Peter Turnquest speaks at the FNM Convention.
By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
FREE National Movement Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest yesterday questioned why the Christie administration has not yet released this year’s Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival financial performance report.
Mr Turnquest, the shadow minister for finance, said the Bahamian people “are due a full and transparent explanation of how that money was spent, and what the returns were on that money.”
Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival was held in Nassau from May 7-9 and in Grand Bahama from April 15-16. However, more than two months after the festival was held, many, including members of the Official Opposition, have questioned why the Government has yet to produce figures on the festival’s financial performance and economic impact.
Last week, Bahamas National Festival Commission (BNFC) Chairman Paul Major said the report is complete, but could not confirm when it would be released publicly.
Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe also told The Tribune last week that the report was completed, but that he did not know why the report had not yet been released. At the time, Mr Wilchcombe said the BNFC was meeting with Prime Minister Perry Christie, who is also the Minister of Finance on the report and “then they can release it because his Ministry is responsible for that.”
“As far as I’m concerned the ministry would have very little to do with that report,” Mr Turnquest said yesterday. “The carnival commission would have been the ones who would have had the information to compile the information in the report, it would have gone to the Ministry of Finance for their information, but other than that it ought to be presented.
He added: “…The Bahamian people are due a full and transparent explanation of how that money was spent, and what the returns were on that money.”
In April, Mr Major said the government would spend about $7m to host the festival.
The month before, Mr Wilchcombe told The Tribune the Government’s carnival budget would be “around $3 million”; however, he did add that “work on the final number is still being done.”
The government budgeted $9m for the inaugural Junkanoo Carnival, but due to cost overruns and other failures on the part of the commission, that spending ballooned to $11.3m. Last year, the government reaped $8.3m in combined direct and tax revenues, with the latter providing $6.7m of that sum.
The direct revenue, which totalled $1.6m, largely came from ticket sales and cash sponsorships, organizers said.
The commission subsequently faced strong criticism for going over budget, lack of proper planning, not enough international marketing and not announcing a headliner for the festival’s concert sooner.