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2003-03-08 01:28:19

Junkanoo Report Coming March 10

Opposition leader Alvin Smith, in Parliament, pressed for a financial accounting of the events.

After two months and several days since the last Junkanoo parade was held, a detailed financial report on the cultural event has yet to be tabled in Parliament.

However, Prime Minister Perry Christie told the Opposition in the House of Assembly Wednesday to expect the report on Monday, March 10.

"I have asked Deloitte and Touché to put under their signature, what the position is and I would most certainly let you see it, so that you can satisfy yourself. It is obviously now about to come," said the Prime Minister, who produced a letter from the accounting firm to the effect.

The letter, addressed to the Minister of State for Finance, James Smith, confirmed that the accounting firm (Deloitte & Touché) would provide the government with a draft report on Junkanoo by Monday.

"We do apologize for the delay in getting the report to you. We needed to incorporate into our report, final prize monies and cash flows pertaining to the awards banquet, which was held on Saturday Feb. 22, 2003. In addition, personnel at the Ministry of Sports and Culture are still in the process of providing us with documentation related to the 2001-2002 parades. Thanking you in advance for your patience and understanding on this matter, Yours very truly, Deloitte & Touché," read the Prime Minister.

The 2002-2003 Junkanoo parades saw a number of changes, including an increase in the number of parades, bleacher rentals from a foreign firm at a reported cost of $1 million dollars, and revved up ticket prices. Culture Minister Neville Wisdom, responding to criticisms that the rental costs were excessive, predicted that at least $3 million dollars would be realized from the five separate events, all of which he subsequently described as "successful."

In addition to the traditional Boxing Day, New Year's Day, and Junior Junkanoo parades, two separate parades were held to honour Junkanoo stalwarts Winston "Gus" Cooper and Percy "Vola" Francis.

Opposition leader Alvin Smith in Parliament on Wednesday January 22, and in subsequent House meetings, pressed for a financial accounting of the events.

The public was "sitting on the edge of their seats, gasping and waiting for the report on all parades," Mr Smith said at one point.

Prime Minister Perry Christie responded that in light of the "public commentary" and "public interest," generated over the matter, an independent accounting firm would be retained to provide a financial report on the festivities.

"For the Leader of the Opposition's purpose," he said, "I don't know if the Minister is in receipt, but the government took the precaution to have accounts other than the accounts of the Ministry of Culture.

"In fact," he stated, "it was the mandate of the government, that the Minister of State for Finance use his good offices to ensure that there was an accountant present, so that whatever the accounts amounted to, the government would have had an early view of them."

By Tamara McKenzie, The Nassau Guardian

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