Former Prime Minister and Leader of the opposition Progressive Liberal Party Perry Christie at Junkanoo. (Photo by Steven Gay)
Nassau Bahamas – In a statement issued over the weekend, members of the Progressive Liberal Party condemned the decision for the Ministry of Culture to impose fees to journalist attending the premier cultural parade, Junkanoo. The opposition party called on the government to withdraw its ‘ill-advised proposition.’
Statement by the PLP
The Progressive Liberal Party places its unreserved support behind the Great Fourth Estate and call on all freedom loving Bahamians to condemn the foolish, discriminatory and counter-productive decision by the Ministry of Culture to restrict the movement and access of the media during our country’s premier cultural event. The PLP recognizes that the media is the link between both local and international communities and play a crucial role in the development and marketing of this world famous and uniquely Bahamian cultural event and key tourism product. All efforts must be made to support the media, an important partner, in expanding Bahamian cultural awareness.
It is important to note that while in opposition, the FNM was critical of the PLP government’s privatization efforts of the seating arrangements for Junkanoo and argued against a levy to access and enjoy the Junkanoo celebrations. They have apparently back tracked on this position and not only have they refused to eliminate the fee charged to spectators, they are now charging a so called “accreditation fee” to the media, the principal conduit and partner for promoting cultural awareness both locally and internationally. This policy is clearly counter-productive in its intent.
The PLP calls on the government to act in a manner consistent with its pre-election promise. The FNM promised that “to conserve and promote our natural and historical heritage for our own benefit and as attractions for visitors the FNM government will: Provide life-affirming and self-enriching experiences by promoting cultural awareness.” The PLP insists that the FNM government cannot fulfill this promise by attempting to discourage media participation through the restriction of access.
This is a baneful and counter-productive policy with no stakeholder support. Further, the national interest is not served by this initiative as its initial intent to selectively restrict the freedom of the press is inherently discriminatory and undemocratic so the FNM must immediately withdraw this ill-advised proposition.