Former UDC head blames Gov’t for MoBay Convention Centre failure
The former head of the Urban Development Corporation(UDC), Joy Douglas, is blaming successive governments for the entity’s failure to maximise on development projects such as the Montego Bay Convention centre.
She makes the assertion in a 235-page document sent to the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament in response to a damning performance management audit conducted by the Auditor General last year.
Douglas resigned from the agency in 2011 as the UDC came under the spotlight following questionable property sales.
Joy Douglas says lack of discipline and strategic direction on the part of the Ministry of Finance in relation to resource allocation and a culture of ‘juggling’ have often left agencies exposed.
She says the Montego Bay Convention Centre project is a perfect example of this.
It has been revealed that the SMG Worldwide Entertainment and Convention Venue Management Company had performed ‘miserably’ in marketing the complex, but was guaranteed fees totalling $2.7 million monthly.
At the same time, the UDC is pumping in about $20 million per month to maintain the facility.
The revelation has lead to public outcry and calls for the firm to be fired.
However, Douglas says the company is not to be blamed for the state of affairs.
She says the recent comments about the level of business being conducted at the facility and blame being levelled at SMG is just another example of governments omitting to plan and not being prepared to take responsibility for their decisions.
According to her, the finance ministry failed to allocate funds for the marketing of the convention centre.
She says the Government blundered in not hiring the marketing firm at the same time that construction began.
She says a lead time of two to three years is required for booking major conventions and SMG should have been hired at least since 2006, but was not engaged until 2011 when the centre was completed.
Douglas also says an initial assessment of the project determined that there would be net operating deficits in the first 10 years of operation which is typical of convention centres.
Douglas says the recent reports only serve to highlight the fact that successive administrations failed to prioritise the development needs of the country, misdirect limited resources and then do not take responsibility for those decisions.
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