Former Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe.
By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
NEARLY six weeks after the official Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival economic and revenue report was completed, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe and Bahamas National Festival Commission Chairman Paul Major are at odds over who should release the information to the media.
On Sunday, Mr Wilchcombe told The Tribune that the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival (BNFC) has already briefed Prime Minister Perry Christie on the report and said BNFC officials were still putting the finishing touches on their presentation to the media.
Mr Wilchcombe added: “They want to ensure that all the t’s are crossed and i’s dotted. They have briefed the prime minister, myself and the minister responsible for sports. They intend to make a formal presentation to the media, and it’s very detailed and so they want to make sure all questions can be answered because there was so much involved, all the entertainers, logistics.”
Mr Wilchcombe reportedly told The Nassau Guardian on Wednesday that the report would likely be released by the BNFC yesterday.
However, when contacted Thursday for details on when the report would be released, Mr Major said it was the “government’s responsibility” not his to reveal the findings.
“The report is done but it is the government’s report and they have to release it,” Mr Major told The Tribune.
“They are the principals, it is their carnival and it is their report to speak about.”
Last year, the BNFC released its report on July 28 - just under three months since the Nassau festival closed on May 9, 2015.
Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival was held in Nassau from May 5-7, and in Grand Bahama from April 15-16. Many people, 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.
On July 25, Mr Major confirmed to Tribune Business that he was preparing to present the completed report to the government that same day.
The government spent $11.3 million - $2.3 million over budget - on the inaugural festival, which attracted about 115,000 spectators or participants, employed 7,208 people and benefited 880 small and medium enterprises.
It “gained” $8.3 million in combined direct and tax revenues, with the latter providing $6.7 million of that sum. The direct revenue, which totalled $1.6 million, largely came from ticket sales and cash sponsorships, organisers said.
The BNFC faced strong criticism last year for going over-budget and a lack of proper planning, and promised a more “focused” marketing approach for this year’s festival. The BNFC previously said funding for this year’s festival would be roughly $7 million.