The Central Executive of Pan Trinbago wants the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) to contribute an estimated $3 million for funding the accommodation, meals and ground transport for Tobago panmen who will be participating in this year’s Panorama semi finals and finals in Port of Spain.
Nine members of the central executive of the pan body led by its president Keith Diaz met with THA Chief Secretary Orville London, Secretary of Community Development and Culture Tracy Davidson-Celestine and Chief Administrator Dr Ellis Burris to present a case for the money.
However, London said while the Assembly had assisted the organisation in the past two years it was not prepared with all due respect to get involved until Pan Trinbago was able to demonstrate that it had used every possible means to get the money from where the money should come from.
The THA Chief Secretary said Pan Trinbago’s request of $50 million for the 2012 Panorama and its receipt of $25 million from the Central Government was based on the premise that it was the responsibility of the national government, and therefore the responsibility of the Ministry of Multiculturalism and the National Carnival Commission (NCC). “It means therefore that the NCC and the national government have not provided the necessary funding for Tobago bands to participate,” he added.
London said the request from Pan Trinbago was almost half of Tobago’s Carnival budget including its Pan Champs competition. He said the Assembly had made it very clear that Trinidad and Tobago was one country and consequently when there was a national competition, the national bodies, the national government were the institutions that took responsibility.
“I am not saying that we would not look into the request or the concerns, but my question is has the process been developed in a way that brings coverage to all of us. I am saying that Pan Trinbago has to put it on the table. You are saying that Tobago panmen will not be discriminated against but the numbers say otherwise and therefore what are you prepared to do about that?” London asked the Pan Trinbago central executive members.
London advised the panmen that the first order of business was for Pan Trinbago to write the Minister of Multiculturalism “who is willing to talk about a second Carnival but he can’t handle the first one. Let the Minister tell the people of Tobago why he is not providing enough funding for the Tobago steel bands to go to Trinidad. It is only in those circumstances that we will come like the knight in shining armour to defend our people but we will not jump in now because once we jump in now we take over the fight”.
Diaz said Panorama was a national event and not one of Trinidad or of Tobago. He noted that 167 steel bands were in Panorama this year and everyone was entitled to participate. “I am asking if the THA can put something in place to help us address this situation. Accommodation is the main bugbear in this whole scenario because for the semi finals you have a lower rate but when you reach the finals you’re quoted in US currency,” he said.
Diaz and his team also discussed the staging of the Tobago Regional Preliminaries with the THA.