Stimulus for entertainment sectorWednesday, December 01, 2021
BY DURRANT PATE
The Government is reiterating a promise to the local entertainment sector that a stimulus package will be provided to aid the sector's recovery from the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, despite being adamant that his Administration will honour the promise of providing a stimulus package to the sector. Holness reiterated the promise first made in April this year, at his party's 78th annual conference on Sunday.
The stimulus package is currently being worked on by Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports Minister Olivia ''Babsy'' Grange. It is expected that there will be consultation with members of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association, the Sound System Association of Jamaica, Dancehall Dance Association and other industry stakeholders before the stimulus package is finalised.
The entry of the coronavirus disease into the island has dealt the sector a severe blow, with industry players – from party promoters to the pan chicken vendor – being left without a stable means of income. However, the sector had been granted resumption in both the summers of 2020 and 2021 but these were short-lived, as the general public blamed the entertainment industry for the spike in pandemic numbers.
Prime Minister Holness indicated that government support would come not during the pandemic but afterwards given the fiscal challenges. However, there is some ambivalence in the sector about any government support anytime soon given the fact that there is no sign of when the pandemic will end. The hope is, however, that some help will be given in the new year.
Admitting that the music and entertainment sectors have suffered greatly, Holness detailed his personal experience with a member of the entertainment sector and the difficulties faced, as a result of the pandemic.
According to the prime minister, “I met up with an enterprising entertainer who is a dancer but also a businessman who brings in people from overseas to stay at his Airbnb to learn and experience Jamaican culture, so he was hit twice, with the shutdown in entertainment and hit with the shutdown in tourism with his Airbnb business and he is angry and upset, and reasonably so, because the measures we have put in have been devastating.”
Holness told the JLP's 78th annual conference that he promised the man he would do something for him and the sector generally, as the Government is contemplating how they can support the sector that is “responsible for Brand Jamaica and keeping the flag flying all around the world with intangible benefits.”
The entertainment sector has been hampered by an official ban on parties, gathering limits and nightly curfews since last year March, except for two brief periods of opening.
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