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Minister: Pan players to get $1,000

By Camille Bethel

Pan players are to receive $1,000 each this year, Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Dr Lincoln Douglas said yesterday.

Speaking at a Pan Trinbago media briefing at the VIP lounge at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, yesterday Douglas said his ministry understands and supports the value of the pan to the people of Trinidad and Tobago and will continue to clarify and confirm pan as the national instrument. (See Page 29).

"We already said this year we would increase the contribution to pan players to $1,000 in Trinidad and Tobago.

"I have yesterday spoken with my staff and executive at the ministry and have asked them to work with the National Carnival Commission (NCC) and Pan Trinbago to continue the work of clarifying, legitimising and confirming all the panyards in Trinidad and Tobago so each of them can become a meaningful institution they can have their own space with a sense of legality. I have asked them to take this project seriously and to begin work immediately," he said.

Pan Trinbago's president Keith Diaz explained that the $1,000 would go to pan players from 63 single pan bands, 65 small bands, 38 medium bands and 17 large bands in a move to uplift the steelband movement.

Further explaining what the legitimising of the panyards meant, Diaz said "Some of the panyards we have in Trinidad and Tobago have to get security of tenure so that they will have the deed of their land within their hold. Some have and some don't. The majority don't so this is what he is referring to and having dialogue with us to make that happen for some of the panyards."

He said some of the panyards are on State lands, some are on agricultural lands some are on private lands so it is really about giving the panyards proper deed to do business on behalf of the respective steelband.

"This is to ensure that the place the panyards occupy are legitimate. We welcome that from the minister and the Government because steelband will now have proper means to go into the banks and do proper business and rebuild their panyards and do industries and different things they require so they can have the land as security," he said.

Diaz also announced that the National Petroleum Company (NP) donated its drum factory to Pan Trinbago on Wednesday.

"The pan factory, the drum factory is what NP use to make a lot of drums for oil and drums for the pan movement where tuners would go and get their drums.

"NP decided it will give Pan Trinbago this aspect of development and we will have to put a board in place for running the drum factory," Diaz said.

He said this will increase the already sizeable market it has for pans which it has already sold to Grenada and Belize.

"So people are requiring our skills and services. We have opened a tuners guild where we have asked the tuners to be part of that so that when they tune them you go to them to purchase so you have that business aspect to go forward for a lot of tuners to get work through out the year," he said.

Diaz said Pan Trinbago has close to $2 million in material to start up the factory but it doesn't have a warehouse because Sealots is not theirs.

"So we are asking for a little time whereby we can source a warehouse to put the equipment to make the drums."

He said it has asked NP to use the same space that it has for the drums right now in the meantime so the tuners can use it but it has not yet been officially handed over.

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