By Robert A. Emmanuel

Another threat to boycott an event on the Carnival calendar has reportedly been pulled back after the Festivals Commission allegedly made good on outstanding payments to member bands of the Antigua and Barbuda Pan Association (ABPA) late yesterday.


Earlier yesterday, the ABPA issued a press statement, informing the media that due to the “blatant disrespect towards the pan fraternity” from the Antigua and Barbuda Festivals Commission (ABFC), “the decision has been made to withdraw all member bands from the National Panorama Competition scheduled for 3rd August.”


It added that with “Antigua’s carnival fast approaching, it seems like Déjà Vu all over again as the Antigua and Barbuda Pan Association locks horns with the Antigua and Barbuda Festivals Commission yet again and awaits the complete settlement of Carnival 2018 monies.”


The strongly worded statement noted that as part of negotiations held last year, the Cabinet had agreed to pay the steel bands by December 31.
“With only three of the nine Panorama bands presently sponsored, this delay is already causing serious disruptions in preparations for Panorama 2019,” the release said.


“After exercising much patience, and without so much as an explanation or apology by the ABFC, the ABPA issued a letter to the Chairman of the ABFC on Thursday 23 May 2019, reminding him of the Cabinet agreement, indicating the ABPA’s stance in settling all outstanding matters of 2018 before commencing negotiations for 2019, and also requesting an urgent meeting to settle these matters.


“After no response was received, a second letter was penned on Tuesday 4 June 2019, this time giving a deadline of Tuesday 11 June to receive all outstanding monies. To add insult to injury, the Chairman still has not replied to either letter.”


It noted that the withdrawal was announced because of the absence of any formal response to either letter by the ABFC, and the failure to complete payment of all 2018 monies 10 months after the completion of carnival 2018 and more unbelievably, less than two months before the start of carnival 2019.


It added that after a new executive board was elected at an extra-ordinary meeting, “it will no longer be a case of business as usual.”


Meantime, the Pan Association’s President, Patrick “Stone” Johnson said the organisation has run out of patience with the Commission.


“As the press release did say, no communication … we should have been paid since 31 December 2018 and coming down the line, we never had a meeting to discuss the way forward and… yes, we collected some money, but monies are still owed.


“To prepare for a competition, it is very costly so you need your monies to prepare and one of the issues is that you are in arrears with persons who normally help you, they are going to say where’s their money,” he said, adding that transportation and meals for players are often paid by the steel bands.


“When you look at uniforms, you have to order these uniforms earlier. Now, if you are in arrears with these companies that you normally go to, they are going to say they need some form of deposit. If you have not collected your monies, you would be struggling,” Johnson said.
This is not the first time that the ABPA has had to threaten to boycott Panorama in order to receive monies owed to them.
A similar action occurred in June 2018 over the outstanding payment owed to steel bands in 2017 and the request for the removal of the stage’s canopy in July 2018.
Up to press time, OBSERVER had tried multiple times to contact officials at the Festivals Commission and the Pan Association President to comment on the development but have been unsuccessful.

nce, and without so much as an explanation or apology by the ABFC, the ABPA issued a letter to the Chairman of the ABFC on Thursday 23 May 2019, reminding him of the Cabinet agreement, indicating the ABPA’s stance in settling all outstanding matters of 2018 before commencing negotiations for 2019, and also requesting an urgent meeting to settle these matters.


“After no response was received, a second letter was penned on Tuesday 4 June 2019, this time giving a deadline of Tuesday 11 June to receive all outstanding monies. To add insult to injury, the Chairman still has not replied to either letter.”


It noted that the withdrawal was announced because of the absence of any formal response to either letter by the ABFC, and the failure to complete payment of all 2018 monies 10 months after the completion of carnival 2018 and more unbelievably, less than two months before the start of carnival 2019.


It added that after a new executive board was elected at an extra-ordinary meeting, “it will no longer be a case of business as usual.”
Meantime, the Pan Association’s President, Patrick “Stone” Johnson said the organisation has run out of patience with the Commission.


“As the press release did say, no communication … we should have been paid since 31 December 2018 and coming down the line, we never had a meeting to discuss the way forward and… yes, we collected some money, but monies are still owed.


“To prepare for a competition, it is very costly so you need your monies to prepare and one of the issues is that you are in arrears with persons who normally help you, they are going to say where’s their money,” he said, adding that transportation and meals for players
are often paid by the steel bands.


“When you look at uniforms, you have to order these uniforms earlier. Now, if you are in arrears with these companies that you normally go to, they are going to say they need some form of deposit. If you have not collected your monies, you would be struggling,” Johnson said.


This is not the first time that the ABPA has had to threaten to boycott Panorama in order to receive monies owed to them.


A similar action occurred in June 2018 over the outstanding payment owed to steel bands in 2017 and the request for the removal of the stage’s canopy in July 2018.


Up to press time, OBSERVER had tried multiple times to contact officials at the Festivals Commission and the Pan Association President to comment on the development but have been unsuccessful.