Amidst allegations of corruption and mismanagement of funds, an emergency meeting was held by Pantrinbago and members of various steelbands on Tuesday, Jan. 10, to decide if the 2017 Panorama would go on as planned. Pantrinbago’s Acting President, Richard Forteau, announced that the event would take place.
Pannists forced the meeting to take place by threatening not to perform in this year’s event. The main issue of contention was the non-payment of fees to the steelpan community for 2016 Panorama. Players in every band are paid for their participation in the event, generally in the sum of $1,000 TT each, which is roughly $150 U.S. Forteau acknowledged that all business related to the payment would be discussed at the conclusion of this year’s event.
Keith Diaz, current president of Pantrinbago, underwent angioplasty surgery to clear blocked arteries at St Clair Medical Centre in Port of Spain, Trinidad. He has since been discharged and is recuperating. The allegations of corruption towards Diaz’s administration have so far resulted in the resignation of three staff members, Vice President Byron Serrette, Education Officer Aquil Arrindell, and Assistant Secretary Cindy Rosemin.
“We came to a compromise in terms of where Panorama and elections (of an executive) are concerned. We agreed for the executive to continue until after carnival and for Panorama to go on,” said Dane Gulston, respected pannist and spokesman for the disgruntled players.
Gulston also mentioned an issue with bounced checks that Pantrinbago had issued in response to complaints about 2016 payments. So far, it is unclear how many checks have been issued and how many, if any, checks bounced.
“I got mine. Pan Trinbago only put a certain amount of money. It was a case of the early bird catches the worm. I think they put about $5 million and whoever got their first received money,” said Phase II Pan Groove pannist Akeisha Hyles in a quote from the Daily Express. “I feel people in the East and South did not get money…only pannists in the North and Tobago. I went down to FCB downtown at 7:15 am. About 57 pannists were waiting to get cheques.”
Current rumors from various sources imply the possibility that the National Carnival Commission (NCC) could take over the running of Panorama. Another idea circulating is to possibly instate an interim executive committee until new officials can be elected.
“I personally wish that the NCC will join with Pan Trinbago to run Panorama the right way,” Gulston said. “My stance is what is right for the panman. Yes, we still have things pending like the players’ remittance, but Panorama has to go on. I know there is also talk of the $1,000 being reduced to $500 for the players. Basically it seems that the government and the minister want the executive changed, so I know it will have to change but we will deal with it after carnival.”