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Defending the One Nation Concert against criticism that the country’s funds could be better spent elsewhere, Prime Minister Gaston Browne has emphasized its potential to attract tourism and promote cultural exchange.
He has cited the concert as a worthwhile investment, while acknowledging that it is not a solution to all the problems faced by Antigua and Barbuda.
The One Nation Concert, which is the largest event in Antigua, attracts over ten thousand people, and last year cost EC$370,000, partly offset by private sector contributions to pay for some of the artists.
Browne has highlighted the returns in taxes generated by the concert, which amount to over $600,000.00.
“When you look at the social value, people have entertainment needs. Many individuals want to see certain artists but cannot afford the 100 and 200 dollars the promoters charge…And if the government decides once a year, we would treat our people to a little entertainment, and we give thanks for the successes we enjoyed…what is fundamentally wrong in that,” Browne said
The government has come under criticism from the Opposition United Progressive Party for organizing the One Nation concert this year, considering that it plans to impose a 2% increase in ABST soon.
Nonetheless, according to Browne, there are individuals who are not in favor of a united country.
“They want to exploit the differences among us, and our government is determined that those differences no matter how subtle should not be exploited, and we will continue to integrate the entire nation. We should be proud too because today, there is no other country in the Caribbean that is more representative of the Caribbean than Antigua and Barbuda,” he said
Browne’s vision for One Nation is to ensure the government’s integration efforts and maintain a peaceful and unified atmosphere.
Browne stated that the government has allocated more funds towards Melting Pot than One Nation Concert, and that the attendance of Melting Pot is lower.
Meanwhile, Browne mentioned that vendors, retailers, makeup artists, taxi and bus operators, clothing stores, and many others are involved in the event.
One Nation Concert is scheduled for January 24th of next year.