Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Obstacles in Pan Trinbago’s way

Pan Trinbago, one of the oldest grassroots organisations in Trinidad and Tobago, is now fighting for its survival in the space and the arena that it struggled long and hard to establish and maintain for over 60 years.
What is saddening, maddening and frightening is the fact that some people who don’t have a clear history of the evolution of the pan are recommending that it be taken away from us, and placed in the hands of big business, who they believe, are more capable and more competent to manage the business of pan. This has brought tears to the eyes of many who made great sacrifices.
This the same pan that society rejected and branded its early pioneers outcasts, rogues and vagabonds. They stood up and faced all the prosecution and persecution to preserve it. I have never seen any businessman who invested in a business venture to benefit his employees. And I have not seen any big business that was or is successful without depending on the Government for concessions or bailouts.
The impasse between the Minister of Community Development Culture and the Arts and Pan Trinbago has nothing to do with accountability on the part of the pan organisation. That is a red herring. There is a bigger agenda involved. Those who pay the piper call the tune. And today, big payback is expected.
Pan Trinbago produces an audited financial statement annually to NCC, the minister and the Permanent Secretary, unlike most other entities across this nation. Yet, today, this minister is saying to the nation that she has to protect the public purse. From whom? Pan Trinbago? What a shame! Pan Trinbago is now the whipping horse for all the years of mismanagement, corruption and wastage of our national patrimony, and must be reined in as an example for all to see how serious the Government is in dealing with corruption.
Now that Pan Trinbago is maximising its efforts to benefit from the billion-dollar industry that we have created across the globe by meaningful investments that would rebound to the benefit of all its stakeholders, all the red herrings and stumbling blocks are being placed in its way.
All organisations have challenges. Did the minister see it fit to offer to the organisation a few million dollars for capacity building and institutional strengthening?
No, but she is hell bent on making a contribution in the destruction of an institution that is much older than she is because of malicious gossips. But I must say to the goodly minister that this battle between Mardi Gras and Canboulay began long before her existence, and that one ought to be more tactful in dealing with such sensitive matters.
Today, Carnival has developed into a financially viable industry, heavily influenced by Canboulay groups. Mardi Gras is hell bent on taking back control by any means necessary. This battle, if not managed sensibly, could go on long after this minister demits office, and it would record her as a major contributor.
The pannists’ remittances will be paid, and debts incurred through events, not corruption, will be serviced, as is the custom over the years.
It seems to be the intention to distract and bog us down in petty internal struggles that would keep us in a state of eternal servitude. We are asking the Government to extend the same concessions to us that is extended to all foreign and local investors in this country.
We have invested over 60 years and today when we are poised to trigger our industrial thrust but some are working hard to keep us in Panorama mode. History will not be kind to them.
Michael L Joseph
PRO, Pan Trinbago