SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — The Dominican Republic's government said Wednesday that it cannot provide any kind of financial assistance to organizers of the Miss Universe contest scheduled to be held in the Caribbean country.
Jose Ramon Peralta, presidential administrative minister, said the government does not have the $6 million requested by the organizers.
"They're welcome to hold the event with their resources and contributions from the private sector," he said. "We are nearing a fiscal deal, a plan of austerity, and we must be very cautious about expenses."
Officials from the administration of President Danilo Medina, who won elections in May, are meeting with representatives of the International Monetary Fund and expect to soon sign an economic monitoring agreement.
The Miss Universe Organization said in a statement Wednesday that it has already received what it called overwhelming support from the private sector, including the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in the tourist city of Punta Cana.
"This project is very much alive," the organization said.
The organization said it understood the government's position, but reiterated that such an event would help draw more tourists to the Dominican Republic, noting that is one of the president's priorities.
The Miss Universe contest is scheduled for December. Officials have not announced the location but have said they are considering Punta Cana.
The Dominican Republic hosted the Miss Universe contest in 1977.