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2003-03-12 01:45:27

Government 'Sort Of' Has Junkanoo Report

Where's the Junkanoo report?

Despite a promise to have the financial details of the Junkanoo parades presented to the Government on Monday, officials at the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, and accounting firm Deloitte & Touche were tight-lipped on whether they were ready on Monday.

A Deloitte & Touche manager staff was not allowed to "divulge" information. Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Neville Wisdom told The Guardian around 6 p.m. that the report is "imminent." He did not say, however, whether he had actually received it.

"I can't answer that right now, only because we sort of have it and we sort of don't. Some time this evening I think we may have it, but I don't want to say this officially. I am on my way now to Deloitte & Touche and that is all I can say."

Asked whether he thought the report would reflect a gain or loss, he said: "What price do you put on culture?"

Mr. Wisdom said the gain is the positive development of Junkanoo and that there was nothing "untoward" in the Government's involvement in Junkanoo. "All we tried to do is do the right thing and move things forward," he said.

Minister Wisdom said this is the first time government is willing to be "accountable" by producing a report for the public.

Last Wednesday, in the House of Assembly, Prime Minister Perry Christie told Opposition leader, Alvin Smith, to expect the report on Monday.

"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 back him.

He said the letter was addressed to the Minister of State for Finance, James Smith.

Ever since Minister Wisdom announced changes last year in the Junkanoo parades, which included a hike in bleacher ticket prices and the spending of $1 million for bleacher seating, Opposition Leader Alvin Smith has been hot on the heels of the government to have the financial report released.

On Jan. 22, he told the House of Assembly that the public was "sitting on the edge" of its seats, waiting for the report on the parades, that were forcast to generate at least $3 million.

At the time, Prime Minister Christie said that because of "public commentary" and "public interest," it was deemed necessary that the strictest accounting principles be applied in establishing the Junkanoo report, so the Government could end all debate on exact figures.

By Tamara McKenzie, The Nassau Guardian

 
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