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$5m Budget For Carnival As Govt Cuts Contribution

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe

By SANCHESKA DORSETT

Tribune Staff Reporter

sdorsett@tribunemedia.net

TOURISM Minister Obie Wilchcombe said yesterday it is time for the government to stop “investing money” into Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival and “hand over” the yearly celebration to a “private entity”.

Speaking with reporters outside the House of Assembly yesterday, Mr Wilchcombe said the government will spend “considerably less” on Junkanoo Carnival this year but if he had it his way “we would not have to spend anything at all”.

However, Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis told The Tribune that the government has budgeted $5m for this year’s event.

For the inaugural festival, the government spent $11.3m, going over its initial budget of $9m, with the total cost of the first carnival $12.9m, with the rest covered by sponsors.

Last year, the total cost was $9.8m with a government subsidy of $8.1m.

Since its roll out in 2015, Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival has faced backlash from critics about the amount spent on the festival compared to the financial return. Some have also accused the government of adopting other countries’ culture, instead of investing more funding into the Bahamas’ premier cultural event, Junkanoo.

Mr Wilchcombe said the government has proved over the past two years that carnival does have traction and can have a “major financial contribution” to the Bahamian economy. He said it is time for the government to “pass it on”. He also said Junkanoo Carnival will not be cancelled because of the impending general election.

“The country does not stop right before elections, that is ridiculous. I would like to see it move more into the private sector now, government has done what it could do, it has established it, its has proved that it does have marketability so allow now for the private sector to come in and purchase the franchise,” Mr Wilchcombe said.

“We will spend considerably less (this year). I am operating on the premise that we don’t have to spend anything. I am operating on the premise that the private sector will take it over and pay the government a franchise fee. We will own the franchise but certain standards must be maintained but allow for it to be run by the private sector. We should not be doing it, we started it, we invested it, now it’s time for us to hand it over and we get a franchise fee, but the private sector should take it over.”

Mr Wilchcombe said the money the government has spent in the past can now be used for “the refurbishment of the Dundas (Performing Arts Centre), the refurbishment of the National Centre for the Performing Arts and creating new programmes that will assist the arts.”

The government has been highly criticised for hosting the event and not making a profit.

Last year, Bahamas National Festival Commission Chairman Paul Major said the festival has never been and will never be about turning a profit on investment, contending that no variation of the event hosted around the world has generated a profit for the host nation.

He said the success of the festival must be measured by the thousands of persons that benefit from the event indirectly.

Free National Movement Leader Dr Hubert Minnis has previously said that his party will “privatise carnival” and invest the country’s money into Junkanoo and other cultural events if elected in the next general election.

Comments

viewersmatters 2 years, 3 months ago

With a struggling country facing economics difficulty, high crimper crisis, much upgrade needed to the healthcare sector and just to start off with a few much much attention is needed to be focusing on the fight against crime and save innocent people from being targets of crime and the BAHAMAS Government has Time, energy, money and the heart to actually invest into such event that most BAHAMIANS doesn't even has interest in an event that haven't profit the Bahamas at anytime and an event that is a complete insult to the Bahamian culture and the pride of the BAHAMIANS. The Government has the heart and guts to spend 5m of the people on on garbage instead of using that fund to help better the people and the Bahamas.okkkkk

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John 2 years, 3 months ago

Damn if they could do it with $5 million now damn sure they could have done it with $5 million before. Then they say it's an attraction that is supposed to be a tourist draw but just two months out and no international advertising. What really is the state of the tourism plant and product today.

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 3 months ago

It won't be 5 million. It's just a budget, there's no rule to stick to it, remember roscoe's words?

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EasternGate 2 years, 3 months ago

These stinking lying thieving M....F.... Still finding a way to get money to their generals for the elections

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 3 months ago

Is the international marketing included in that figure? What about the song competition the week before carnival?

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banker 2 years, 3 months ago

Sigh .... what we did for Junkanoo before we had all these millions?

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Alex_Charles 2 years, 3 months ago

Junkanoo has never turned a profit and has considerable lost money for more than 2 decades. Ignoring the money spent on trash collection and picking up discarded costumes on the side of the road from paraders.

Culture doesn't need a government to develop, Junkanoo should have all incorporated by now and found alternative means of income generation to push a brand. Instead We have a B category group making more money than all other A groups combined. Why? Because it's a business, not a hand out

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 3 months ago

We have hotels shutting down and our cruise ship traffic moving to Cuba and this fat headed mangy mongrel wants to talk about Carnival !

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