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Sunday 26 January 2020
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[UPDATED] $5m panmaking grant to boost industry

 Minister of Trade and Industry Paula-Gopee-Scoon, shares a light moment with MIC Institute of Technology Professor Clement Imbert at a press conference held at the Trade Ministry's offices at Nicholas Towers, Port of Spain on Tuesday morning. - Vidya Thurab
Minister of Trade and Industry Paula-Gopee-Scoon, shares a light moment with MIC Institute of Technology Professor Clement Imbert at a press conference held at the Trade Ministry's offices at Nicholas Towers, Port of Spain on Tuesday morning. - Vidya Thurab

TRADE Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said a new $5 million steelpan manufacturing grant fund facility will help the industry.

She was speaking at a media conference on Tuesday at the ministry, Nicholas Towers, Port of Spain.

She explained, "There are several issues that have prevented the steelpan manufacturing industry from realising its full potential such as inadequate training, lack of access to appropriate raw materials, inconsistent product quality and standards. The local steelpan industry also has to grapple with a shortage of tuners, and stakeholders have called for greater training to bolster human resource capacity.

"Furthermore, as a result of a limited supply of raw materials available locally, manufacturers have resorted to lower quality input which has led to unsafe manufacturing processes and has also affected the quality of steelpans."

She said given the challenges faced by pan manufacturers with respect to availability, affordability and access to machinery, equipment, software, tools, raw materials and training, an appropriate funding mechanism was vital to stimulate the development of this industry.

"The Government of TT is intent on seeing the steelpan instrument flourish at the global level with input from those who know it best. To do so, the modernisation of steelpan manufacturing operations, and scale, are vital to ensure that international standards are adhered to throughout the production process and these improvements are necessary for export."

She said the grant facility is to provide financial support to steelpan manufacturers for the acquisition of machinery, equipment, software, tools, raw material and training. Funding will be made available in tranches of up to $250,000, not exceeding $1 million per entity. It will be accessible to all pan manufacturers and tuners who are TT nationals and registered and operating in in the country.

She reported that based on available data on pan sales provided by the Steelpan Tuners Guild of TT it is estimated that the size and revenues generated by the steelpan manufacturing industry amounted to $23.53 million in 2017, with local sales revenues accounting for $7.49 million, while total exports reached $16 million. Regional exports were estimated at $4.79 million and extra-regional exports at $11.24 million.

Gopee-Scoon said the benefits to be gained from the availability of funding for manufacturers are: established pannists and steel ensembles using “Made in TT” instruments in key non-diaspora markets; significant penetration of miniature pans in the global toy market; improvements in the production and tuning processes to increase throughput and enhance quality; increased number of pan manufacturing firms operating in TT; increased employment and incomes in pan manufacturing and related industries; and TT established as the "undisputed mecca of steelpan."

She noted the MIC Institute of Technology has been tasked with administering the facility, given its experience in the implementation of technical and vocational training in pan manufacturing.

"We are confident," she said, "that the successful implementation of the steelpan manufacturing grant fund facility will lead to improvements in the production and tuning processes and enhance adherence to global quality standards. It will also be an important platform towards sustainable employment and expansion of exports of the only acoustic musical instrument developed in the twentieth century."

She reported that on Friday she will meet with Pan Trinbago president Beverley Ramsey-Moore to discuss the facility. She explained that she wants the stakeholders to understand the intent of the process and to help bolster it.

This story has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.

TRADE Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said a new $5 million steelpan manufacturing grant fund facility will help the industry.

She was speaking at a media conference on Tuesday at the ministry, Nicholas Towers, Port of Spain.

She explained, "There are several issues that have prevented the steelpan manufacturing industry from realising its full potential such as inadequate training, lack of access to appropriate raw materials, inconsistent product quality and standards. The local steelpan industry also has to grapple with a shortage of tuners, and stakeholders have called for greater training to bolster human resource capacity.

"Furthermore, as a result of a limited supply of raw materials available locally, manufacturers have resorted to lower quality input which has led to unsafe manufacturing processes and has also affected the quality of steelpans."

She said given the challenges faced by pan manufacturers with respect to availability, affordability and access to machinery, equipment, software, tools, raw materials and training, an appropriate funding mechanism was vital to stimulate the development of this industry.

"The Government of TT is intent on seeing the steelpan instrument flourish at the global level with input from those who know it best. To do so, the modernisation of steelpan manufacturing operations, and scale, are vital to ensure that international standards are adhered to throughout the production process and these improvements are necessary for export."

She said the grant facility is to provide financial support to steelpan manufacturers for the acquisition of machinery, equipment, software, tools, raw material and training. Funding will be made available in tranches of up to $250,000, not exceeding $1 million per entity. It will be accessible to all pan manufacturers and tuners who are TT nationals and registered and operating in in the country.

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