Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter
WINNERS IN the 2012 Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Festival Song competition are yet to be compensated months after the event was held.
The competition, which was held in July, saw Abbygaye Dallas being the winner and slated to receive $500,000. Tashina McKenzie placed second and won $250,000; while third place went to O'Neil Scott, who is to get $150,000.
The absence of the prizes is not going down well with at least one of the finalists, who said he is tired of the runaround.
The finalist, who requested anonymity, said he would be taking all the necessary steps to receive his money.
A text message which was sent to the contestants two weeks ago by a JCDC representative read, "Festival Song 2012 finalists, please note the JCDC is still not in a position to honour its debt to you nor other competitions prize winners. We are sorry for the long delay as we struggle to get our funds from the ministry. Thanks for your patience and understanding as we work to make good our promise."
The finalist said the initial deadline that he was given was August 31, noting that several other timelines which were given have also passed.
"Up to now, is only promises. We can't get our monies. Nobody received a cent. All we can hear is that they are waiting on the ministry for money and until now, they can't find another way out."
According to the acting executive director of JCDC, Delroy Gordon, the commission is faced with financial challenges, which is causing the delay in payments.
"It is an unfortunate situation, but what is happening is that we are faced with a cash-flow challenge and as a result of that, we have not been able to honour the prize monies as yet, but we are working on it, and in short order, it will be settled," he said.
In responding to the delay in handing over the prizes, Olivia Grange, opposition spokesperson on culture, said it is a cause for concern, especially given the significance of this year.
"It is not a good thing for this to be happening in the year when we celebrate our 50th anniversary when the competition should be bigger and better. It is most disappointing," she said.
"I can't understand why that should happen because a major announcement was made about the funds allocated to the JCDC for the celebration, so I don't understand why the JCDC would be waiting on the ministry to provide funds," she added.
Efforts to reach Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna by phone were unsuccessful.