Despite $1b loss, McKenzie wants event permit fees slashed
Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie says he will be proposing a reduction in the fees being charged by municipal corporations for the staging of entertainment events when the green light is given for the reopening of the entertainment sector.
In an address at last Thursday’s monthly meeting of the Hanover Municipal Corporation, McKenzie said he was planning a meeting with all the mayors from the island’s municipal corporations, at which time he plans to propose the reduction in fees.
“The prime minister has indicated that consideration is being given to the opening of the entertainment sector. If, and when that happens, it does not necessarily mean that the sector is going to be open for abuse,” said McKenzie. “Minister Grange, in Parliament, mentioned some of what is being considered, and as we work towards the opening of the sector, the role of the municipal corporations is going to be more and more important.”
McKenzie said that the earnings loss by the municipal corporations since March 2020 is in excess of $1 billion dollars, covering areas such as advertising and the other services the corporations provided to the entertainment sector.
McKenzie pleaded with the municipal corporations to take a serious look at the downturn being experienced within the entertainment sector since the arrival of the pandemic.
While admitting that the entertainment sector contributes significantly to employment opportunities islandwide, McKenzie nonetheless argued that the success of what the Government will have to consider with regard to the opening of the sector, will depend on the participation and the commitment of the sector to let it work.
PROPOSITION TO MAYORS
“We, therefore, understand the challenges, and I have not discussed this matter with the mayors as yet, but I intend to raise these discussions with the mayors at a meeting which I am planning for later in this month. Because of the challenges that the entertainment sector faces, I think we in the local government fraternity, despite our own challenges and based on our obligations, I am going to be putting it to the mayors for their consideration, that if we take the decision to reopen the sector, that for a good period we will consider a reduction in the fees that are associated in the staging of entertainment events,” said McKenzie.
He did not explain the level of reduction he was going to ask the mayors to consider, but said he will be urging the local authorities to come on board and assist in returning the entertainment sector to some semblance of stability.
Currently, the standard licence fee charged by the Hanover Municipal Corporation is $2,500; however, for promotional items such as flyers, the fee is $1,500 per flyer and between $2,000 and $3,000 for each mini-board. Huge billboards attract a different rate.
McKenzie said if the mayors buy into the idea, it would go a far way in showing the commitment of a collective response of Government to a sector which has been severely affect because of COVID-19.
“We have persons who sell soup, chicken, who sell the beer, who provide certain services, that continue to find it difficult to make two ends meet,” said McKenzie.
The entertainment sector was closed in March 2020 as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It was reopened on a limited basis between July and August 2020, but was ordered closed again in less than three weeks because the island experienced a surge in coronavirus cases.