By Natario McKenzie
Tribune Business Reporter
Former Bahamas National Festival Commission (BNFC) chairman Paul Major yesterday defended the $25m government spend on Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival, arguing that the Commission has been transparent and accountable.
Mr Major yesterday responded to recent remarks by former assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Thompson, who has offered to investigate the first two Junkanoo Carnival festivals "free of charge". Mr Thompson, a Trinidad native and long-time Bahamas resident, has queried why so much was spent on the festivals and suggested that there has been no accountability over the manner in which they were conducted. Mr Thompson also suggested that Trinidad's Carnival costs far less than the one held in The Bahamas.
"The BNFC has always been transparent and accountable in the manner in which it conducted its business with all accounting records and files available for full review by anyone interested in carrying out such reviews. In fact, the accounts of the BNFC are independently audited and those audit reports are also available for review at the discretion of the Government," said Mr Major yesterday.
"On the suggestion that Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival costs more than Trinidad Carnival, a google search reveals that Trinidad and Tobago Government spent over $131m over the past three years as compared with the Bahamas Government's Carnival-related spend of approximately $25,300,000 over the same period. The Bahamas' spend, even in start-up mode, was only 19 per cent of what Trinidad spent over the past three years," Mr Major added.
Mr Major noted that $13.1m was spent on Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival in 2015, $8.2m in 2016 and $4m this year. "As with any other business, the initial start-up cost is high to ensure brand recognition product acceptance. Bahamian Small and Medium Businesses (SME's) benefitted tremendously from the Carnival as they were the major beneficiaries of the expenditure which no doubt expanded and diversified the local cultural sector," said Mr Major.
He added: "The investment was a good one which has established The Bahamas on the international calendar of festivals in a record three years. Bahamians and foreigners have embraced Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival beyond our initial expectations."