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Money for Dubai ‘well spent’, says Halkitis

While saying he does not think the government went over budget, Minister of Economic Affairs Michael Halkitis said yesterday that the Davis administration will outline how much money was spent on the Expo 2020 in Dubai.

“This is a multi-year project,” Halkitis said.

“It’s been going on for about six years. Some monies have been spent over the years. Late last year, we allocated an amount of money to make sure that we are able to put on a good show…

“I would not technically say that we went over budget but, at the end of the day, we will do an accounting and we will see when everybody is back and all the expenses are settled. I don’t anticipate that we would’ve gone over budget, no.”

Halkitis said the report should take “a couple of weeks”.

He acknowledged recent public concerns about how much was spent on the expo but said the money went to good use.

“We think it’s well spent and, at the end of the day, we want to be able to give a ledger to say this is what we allocated and here’s what we spent and here are some of the benefits that we think are accruing to us,” Halkitis said.

“Some will be immediate and some will be longer term.”

He noted that The Bahamas is not a country that exports much.

Halkitis said it depends on foreign investment to grow its economy.

He said missions like this one can attract foreign investors.

“We can begin to make connections that will lead to investments,” Halkitis said.

“Even with the performers, you know being exposed to not only Dubai, but 190 countries that are participating, if opportunities become available for them to perform elsewhere, we think it’s a plus.”

News that a delegation of more than 100 traveled to Dubai for the event, while The Bahamas continues to suffer from an economic and financial crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, provoked the ire of many over the weekend.

According to the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), $1 million was budgeted for the trip.

And while the amount of money spent was one concern, the primary concern of many was the quality of Bahamian offerings at the expo and how performers were chosen.

The delegation included Bahamian artists and performers, among them, Shaback, a choir led by OPM Press Secretary Clint Watson, whose relatives also made up the delegation in other capacities.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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