THIS ONE’S ON THE PUBLIC PURSE: Govt covered Dubai travel costs for Shaback, RBPF Band and All-Star Band

THIS ONE’S ON THE PUBLIC PURSE: Govt covered Dubai travel costs for Shaback, RBPF Band and All-Star Band
Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis (center left) attends Expo 2020 Dubai, UAE, in January 2022. (OPM COMMUNICATIONS)

No performance fee paid for any of the three groups

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — While the government covered the cost of travel for three of the groups that performed at Expo 2020 Dubai, it did not pay a service fee for those groups, according to Communications Director Latrae Rahming. 

Rahming was responding to questions surrounding the selection and size of a delegation sent to participate in The Bahamas National Day.

He sought to explain that several components influenced the decision-making process, including the cost and size of the delegation.

He said upon coming into office, the Davis administration decided to reduce the previously allocated cost of the initiative from $1.7 million to $1 million. 

Rahming said the guideline and parameters were given by the National Day Coordinator and the committee solicited prospective groups and individuals to participate. 

Those groups then provided the committee with a quote for their cost of service. 

He noted, however, that once the budget and size of the delegation were cut, that impacted several of the groups’ ability to go. 

Rahming said while the Junkanoo group paid was for its service, the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band, the Bahamas All-Star Band and the Shaback Choir, led by Press Secretary Clint Watson, were not.

The government, however, did cover the travel cost for those groups to Dubai.

The communications director also clarified rumors circulating about Bahamians stuck in Dubai. 

He explained that due to the impact of the rollout 5G technology in some Unites States cities, several airlines canceled their flights. 

Flight arrangements from Dubai to Orlando were impacted and as a result, individuals who were to travel on that flight had to be rerouted to other United States cities. 

Rahming advised that one Bahamian remains in the UAE after testing positive for COVID-19. That individual is receiving a per diem and being tested every 48 hours until they receive a negative test to return home. 

Economic Affairs Minister Michael Halkitis assured this week that the government will give a full account of what was allocated and spent towards this nation’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai, affirming that the government believes it was money well spent.

Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis on Monday heralded The Bahamas’ participation as an opportunity to be heard on the world stage and also to form invaluable partnerships.

His comments came amid heavy criticism over the large delegation that traveled, which failed to include prominent cultural performers like the Bahamas National Youth Choir; the choice of representatives, which included a religious group potentially in contravention of the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Islamic practices; the controversial attendance of some high-ranking government and law enforcement officials; and the overall cost to taxpayers.

About Sloan Smith

Sloan Smith is a senior digital reporter at Eyewitness News, covering a diverse range of beats, from politics and crime to environment and human interest. In 2018, Sloan received a nomination for the “Leslie Higgs Feature Writer of The Year Award” from The Bahamas Press Club for her work with Eyewitness News.