Cabinet Approves Revamped Jamaica 50 Programme

Jamaica spending JM$688 million to celebrate 50th year of Independence

Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna announced on April 4, that Cabinet has approved the revamped Jamaica 50 Programme, which is now budgeted lower than the proposed programme of the previous administration.

Outlining details of the $688 million programme, at the weekly Jamaica House press briefing, held at the Office of the Prime Minister, Miss Hanna informed that there was no defined programme in place when she took office (in January), as no funding was approved for activities under the programme, which required resources in excess of $2.5 billion

“It (the programme) was on no foundation…it was a list of events without financial support. It was not backed. What we’ve had to do, in the last eight weeks, is put a programme together, and get it financed, have the approvals done by the Ministry of Finance, get the merchandising licences in place, register the trademarks overseas, meet with private sector individuals to create a marketing plan that we could sell to the private sector, and structure a programme under $690 million,” she said.

Miss Hanna pointed out that on assessment, it was revealed that there were some 43 activities listed, but none were core activities, nor did they have an accompanying budget. Also, the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) had submitted activities costing $690 million, but only $50 million was allocated by the Government to fund them.

“In addition, international events at the London 2012 (Olympic Games), plus assumptions of travel to various Diaspora events, had no budgetary allocations and there was no financing plan presented. The programme as was then outlined was unwieldy, lacked focus, and essentially was generally a listing of projects, events and ideas falling under categories official and endorsed,” she noted.

The Minister said that while the programme was launched in October 2011, there was no marketing, advertising or promotion plan in place, and that the necessary trademarks, although registered in Jamaica, were unprotected in overseas markets. “Therefore, commercial arrangements remain vulnerable and untapped. Potential sponsors all felt the programme was not implementable and adopted a wait and see approach to it,” she told journalists.

She said the revamped programme had therefore been submitted to Cabinet for deliberations with a view to “establishing a proper national scope for this significant milestone in our country’s history, as we celebrate our Golden Jubilee, while being mindful that we ensure that financing and budget parameters are in keeping with what the country can afford at this time.”

Activities will be unfolded in coming weeks. “It is proposed that the campaign to kick off the celebratory period will begin in mid-April, highlighted by our Labour Day activities, which will see Jamaicans islandwide start preparing communities for the main celebratory period, August 1 to August 6,” she informed.

Miss Hanna said it is expected that the celebratory and commemorative activities and events, which have already begun and which will take place here in Jamaica as well as in the Diaspora, will generate an unprecedented level of patriotic commitment that will unite the country towards a national effort to develop and grow the economy.

Meanwhile, Director of the Jamaica 50 Secretariat, Robert Bryan,said the revamped programme will see the private sector providing $194 million through sponsorship arrangements, and the public sector, close to $400 million, with $360 million of that sum going to the JCDC, which will provide a significant part of the programming.

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