THE EDITOR: Reference is made to your editorial titles Pan Endangered, on February 6, which is filled with inaccuracies and a somewhat lack of proper investigation. Firstly you state that “the problems that beset Pan Trinbago in October 2018 remain unresolved. Firstly we inherited an organisation beset with problems, and a damning audit report requested by the government of TT conducted by. Ernst and Young beginning November 2017.
There were many issues confronting us:
1. The matters addressed in the Ernst and Young.
2. On the first day in office we were confronted with an eviction notice for non-payment of rents totalling $272,000.
3. Total debts of almost $60 million, including outstanding payments for the Panorama held in February 2018 which we settled on December 22, 2018, a part of a loan.
4. A debt of $9 million from the 2015 International Panorama to bands and providers.
5. Outstanding salaries to staff and executives for five months in 2018.
6. In other words Pan Trinbago was insolvent.
7. The 2018 audit was not completed as Pan Trinbago owed the previous auditors the sum of $640,000 which we settled.
8. Since then having appointed a new treasurer we were able to complete 2018, 2019, 2020 audits, and 2021 is in the completion stages.
Yes, there was a reshuffling of portfolios as documented in the organisation’s constitution dated June 22, 1997, where the president after consultation with the executive can change the portfolio of any officer who would have occupied office a minimum of one year.
Yes, the 2020 annual general meeting and the 2021 triennial convention were postponed owing to the covid19 pandemic which limited gatherings to five and then ten, there was a state of emergency on May 15, 2021, which was extended to November 17, 2021, owing to the rising number of deaths and infections from the pandemic. Safe zones have been established and anyone attending events there must be fully vaccinated. Health protocols still allow gatherings of ten. The convention which includes the elections will be held when it is safe to do so.
In paragraph 6 of your editorial, you stated that Pan Trinbago made a startling move by a “reimagination” of the long and abandoned headquarters at Trincity. This site was abandoned for over 20 years, occupied by vermin and insects, and described as an eyesore. It took over 20 years for the land to be cleared and the building to be cleaned and sanitised. While your editorial described our proposed agricultural project as whimsical, I assure you that we are serious about developing this piece of abandoned 13 acres of land, and thought that you should have complimented us on our efforts, especially with the meagre financial resources at hand.
We are very concerned with the statement that we “occupied a building rent-free at the corner of Duke and Melbourne Streets,” for the past 18 months. This is very inaccurate, in that we have been occupying this building since November 2018, spent substantial sums to effect the required repairs, and have been paying a rent of $15,000, since January 2020 based on a written agreement with the landlord.
We assure you that our organisation is not drastically divided as the vast majority of bands supported our decision to postpone the elections. Of course, there would be detractors. Pan Trinbago has faced many many challenges and despite this we have been moving forward in a dynamic and positive way, making much-needed changes to the annual Panorama competition, restructuring our drum factory after having to write off $1 million, establishing our social prosperity fund having assisted hundreds of our members, restructuring our treasury, return of the Carnival Monday competitions in all regions in 2020, no 10 per cent deducted from Panorama appearance and assistance fees – a campaign promise, we have contracted an attorney to assist with our constitution changes, we have a draft copy, education scholarships to 25 students at the New Butler Academic College to allow these students to resit their examination, completion of the financial and regulations manual, the first in the history of Pan Trinbago, holding of virtual concerts for our medium and large finalist bands, etc.
These are some of our many achievements with limited resources, and one can see that many of the president’s goals have been achieved, and the circumstances of the steelband movement improved.
We are very satisfied with our performance to date, being an organisation of honesty and integrity, and now in a position to account to our constituents as soon as circumstances allow.
KEITH J A SIMPSON
EDITOR'S NOTE: Mr Simpson correctly points out an error in the editorial for Sunday Newsday for February 6, 2022. The editorial incorrectly stated that Pan Trinbago had occupied its offices entirely rent-free and failed to note the renegotiation with the owner, Israel Khan, for occupancy at a reduced rent.
Otherwise, the editorial differs from Mr Simpson's account only in matters of perspective.