Clement Imbert

STEEL SERENADE: MIC Institute of Technology chairman, professor emeritus Clement Imbert, plays a pan as an appreciative Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon listens, following the announcement of $5 million grant facility for the pan manufacturing industry at the ministry’s Port of Spain office yesterday.

PAN manufacturers and tuners are expected to benefit from a $5 million grant for the establishment of the Steelpan Manufacturing Grant Fund Facility.

So said Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon at a press conference at the Ministry’s office in Port of Spain yesterday.

She is expected to meet with Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey-Moore today to discuss the initiative.

Gopee-Scoon said: “This 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 $1,000,000 per entity.

“This facility will be accessible to all steelpan manufacturers and tuners who are Trinidad and Tobago nationals and registered and operating in Trinidad and Tobago. It was approved by Cabinet this month.”

She added: “There are several issues that have prevented the 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 pan industry also has to grapple with a shortage of tuners and stakeholders have called for greater training to bolster human resource capacity.”

Lack of material

Gopee-Scoon pointed out that 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 pans.

She said the MIC Institute of Technology (MIC-IT) has been tasked with administering this facility given its experience in the implementation of technical and vocational training in pan manufacturing.

She said: “Just last year in October MIC-IT launched a customised pan manufacturing programme which provides participants with knowledge and practical skills in steelpan construction, tuning and fabrication.”

She also said in 2019, MIC-IT launched the “FliK-a-Stix” technology which is the first sound sensitive, LED-performance tenor pan sticks.

Data from 2017 indicates the pan manufacturing industry comprised a couple of major manufacturers that employed ten to 25 people, followed by several smaller-scale entrepreneurs with two to eight workers followed by several individual operations such as tuners, Gopee-Scoon said.

Pan sales provided by the Steelpan Tuners Guild of Trinidad and Tobago (STGTT)) estimated that revenues generated by the pan manufacturing industry amounted to $23,530,830 in 2017, with local sales accounting for $7,493,974 while total exports reached $16,036,856.

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