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Use of national symbols must be monitored closely

— Grange

Balford Henry

Friday, July 20, 2012    

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OPPOSITION spokesperson on youth, sports, gender affairs, entertainment and culture, Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, is urging the Government to pay very close attention to the use of Jamaica's national symbols at home and abroad, especially during Jamaica 50 celebrations.

Grange suggested that the Government and the Opposition should be able to work together to sustain the value and integrity of the symbols, without any form of political or social discord.

She was speaking in the sectoral debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

She said that with the approach of Jamaica 50 and the 2012 Olympics in London, it has become particularly important for the matter to be addressed, as local and foreign entities were seeking to use the national emblems and symbols to their own advantage.

"Indeed, over the years, various government agencies and/or departments have received requests from local and overseas entities for the use of folk culture material, emblems and symbols. It is anticipated that there will be a significant increase in demand during this year. However, right now, no single agency is able to provide definitive guidance with respect to the use of these materials," she pointed out.

The former minister said that with the exception of an incomplete draft Handbook of National Symbols issued by the Office of the Prime Minister in 2004, and a Code for National Symbols, there was no clear, comprehensive policy guidelines or legislative framework.

"While the Handbook provides descriptions of the national symbols and emblems, as well as background on their origins in addition to some restrictions regarding their use, it offers no guidance as to their management," she told the House.

"As a result, the present situation is that permission for the use, display or performance of the national symbols and emblems is being handled in an ad hoc manner. Additionally, while others are reaping great financial rewards from the use of these items, Jamaica receives little, if any, financial gain" she added.

She argued that the national emblems and symbols were iconic representations of Jamaica's history, people, aspirations and values, created as "visual signs and representations of the nation to imbue unity and patriotism among all Jamaicans as well as respect from all its citizens and foreigners".

She expressed concern that with the increasing international strength of Brand Jamaica, buoyed by the country's cultural and sporting successes, many of the emblems and symbols, especially the national flag, have gained significant international respect, and numerous non-Jamaican entities have and continue to reap great financial and brand equity benefit from tapping into the strength of Brand Jamaica through the use of their use.

"While restriction on the use of the national colours poses a serious challenge, it has become imperative that we manage and/or exploit its national emblems and Symbols to the advantage of the Jamaican people," Grange said.

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