TCCC

Note: Information provided here is for personal use only…. Karma


Kunsang Tanzin(Mr.)
Former President (2011-2013)
Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre
Canadian Tibetan Association of Ontario

Toronto, November 28, 2013

Memorandum submitted to Private Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the

Dalai Lama Trust with regard to Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre, Toronto.

Respected Sirs,

First of all I would like to express my immense sense of gratitude to the Private Office and the Dalai Lama Trust for giving me the opportunity to be part of the meeting convened at New York on 19 October 2013 to discuss the situation of Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre (TCCC), Toronto, as well as to discuss the possible establishment of a Centre for Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at TCCC. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my sense of appreciation for the great effort made by Kungo Jampel Lhundup la to personally visit our Centre on August 20, 2013 and meet with both the incoming and out going Board members of the TCCC. It is my understanding that both these meetings, in Toronto and New York, explain the importance that the Private Office and The Dalai Lama Trust accord to the vision of H.H. the Dalai Lama. To realize His Holiness’s vision would ideally be the desired goal for every one of us, who have sacrificed much of their personal life and worked hard on a voluntary basis to serve the Tibetan community in Toronto. It was also stated by the officials from the Dalai Lama Trust during the first meeting of the Special Committee in Toronto on July 26, 2011 that the purpose of the Dalai Lama Trust funding was for setting up a Buddhist Studies Centre in the future. Unfortunately, the ground reality as it exists then as well as today constraint us from moving meaningfully towards the desired direction.

In both the meetings mentioned above I have tried to present the actual situation as it existed during my tenure, as well as the current situation, with expectation that the steps to be taken in future are in alignment with the existing capacities and weaknesses of the Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre. Sincerity of the desire to implement His Holiness’s vision must be founded on a future plan solidly based on comprehensive understanding of all the circumstances that contributed to the failure or the delay of the proposed project so far. Following the path that has failed us before would further complicate the situation with more confusion and misunderstanding. For the sake of the future of TCCC and for the success of a possible Buddhist Studies Centre at TCCC, an unbiased analytical understanding of the present ground reality and future possible challenges of TCCC is a must. It is my humble submission that the long term dream of the Tibetan community in Toronto now largely imbedded in the TCCC ( $8.8 million dollars lay invested so far in TCCC) must have precedence over short term gains for any individuals or otherwise. There was much cloud over TCCC in 2011 and some of it continues till today. As a genuine stakeholder in the long-term goal of TCCC I am motivated to offer some candid and unselfish perspective without any malice and favour. Respected Kasur Kungo Tashi Wangi la, a member of Special Committee set up by Private Office, in an email to all the members of the Committee on July 27, 2011 wrote, “As committee members serving Kuyig and the Tibetan community I hope we can be frank and blunt amongst ourselves without malice and fear of being misunderstood”. It is in this light that I dare to make my submissions.

Thus, the following points are important to take into considerations. I have also tried to explain some of these points in the meetings held at Toronto and New York.

1. When I took over as the new President of Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre (TCCC) and Canadian Tibetan Association of Ontario (CTAO), to our great surprise the Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre was found to be deep trouble.

a. Physically, with exception of a few rooms, the building owned by TCCC was in a demolished and unusable state with only restricted entry. Restricted entry meant that those workers who enter the building are required to wear protective gears like helmet and safety boots etc. General use by public is not authorized. To rebuild the Centre to its original utilization form would cost the TCCC at least $2.2 million dollars on top of $3.5 million dollars already spent till the demolition stage. In other words we have spent five million seven hundred thousand dollar ($5.7 million) between Spring of 2010 and Spring of 2012 to be able to use 2/3 of the space that we originally occupied.

b. Liens over $1.5 million dollars were lying registered on the property title of TCCC. The General Contractor, its sub trades and the Architect issued these Liens in early December 2010 and subsequently through the Superior Court on January 14, 2011 in the case of the lien by the General Contractors and its sub trades. These Liens were discovered and made known to the public when new Board took charge in August 2011. Non-disclosure of these Superior Court registered Liens and lack of timely action on these Liens had damaging opportunity cost of lost opportunities for TCCC.

c. Consequently, TCCC was already in deep crisis with both current & future liabilities exceeding almost six times the total assets of the TCCC. By all means the TCCC was in an insolvent state (in reality) at the end of July 2011. The following chart will explain the actual situation. The chart shows two Columns No.2 and No. 3. Column No.2 relates to situation when the New Board took over in August 2011 from Norbu la. Column No. 3 relates to situation handed over to the new President, Tsering Tsomo la, in August 2013.

NO. 1

ACCOUNTS

NO. 2

Financial Status When I Took Over from Norbu la on
1 August 2011

NO. 3

Financial Status When I Handed Over to Tsering Tsomo la on
1 Agust 2013

1. TD Bank Mortgage

$1,397,778

$1,190,070

2. General Contractor Maystsar Lien on TCCC property

$1,451,406

$0

3. TD Bank Demand Loan

$750,000

$677,912

4. Architect Bortolloto Lien on TCCC Property

$119,000

$0

5. ISF Canada Govt. Excess Rebate claimed

$160,000

$0

6. Other Creditors

$55,000

$54,300

7. Community member interest Free Loan

$242,500

$734,918

8. Cost to rebuild 2/3 facilities at the Centre

$2,300,000

$0

9. Total liabilities

$6,475,684

$2,657,200

10. Receivables & Advances

$426,532

$13,646

11. Cash in Hand

$29,500

$313,434

12. Total Current Assets (10+11)

$456,032

$327,080

TOTAL LIABILITIES (9 -12)

$6,019,652

$2,330,120





The figures in the above chart explains the following situations:

a. In August 2011 the entire building of TCCC being in a semi-demolished state, the value of TCCC’s property is that of the land value only, which as per the original sale agreement, is one million dollars ($1,000,000). By adding the value of furniture & fixtures, the total asset of TCCC that time was $1.1 million dollars . Therefore, the total liabilities as on 31 July 2011 being $6,019,662 (column No. 2), TCCC’s total liabilities is almost six times the value of its total asset. Magnitude of liabilities six times the assets value is unprecedented for a non-profit organization like TCCC. The TCCC was in an insolvent state in reality in July 2011.

Note: Grant of $500,0000 US Dollars from the Dalai Lama Trust is excluded from the Cash in Hand Asset under column No.2 as the grant was depended upon the New Board’s ability to pursue the insolvent project successfully. Kasur and the then Representative as well as TDLT member, Kungo Lobsang Nyandak la, instructed us not to use the fund by an email on July 29, 2011. The email stated, “1. Do not use the Dalai Lama Trust’s contribution of $500,000 until a full review and assessment of the current status of the project is completed…….”

b. However, as one can observe under column No.2, there is a marked improvement in the situation by the time my tenure ended in August 2013. With the completion of the partial renovation in February 2012, the TD Bank appraised the value of the building to be $2,040,000 dollars ($40,000 worth of furniture & fixtures not included). Hence our total liabilities (including the interest free loans from Tibetan community members) being $2,330,000 by the end of my tenure, the current liabilities are slightly more than the total assets of TCCC. Thus, today the ratio of TCCC’s liability to asset stands at 1.15 to 1. In other words, TCCC today owes $1.15 for every dollar it owns compared with when TCCC owed $6.0 for every dollar it owned when I took over in August 2011. I think that this reduction of TCCC’s liabilities from 600% to 110% of the total asset value in two years is a great achievement by any standard. The entire credit for this achievement goes to all those organisations and individuals who have believed in us and supported the project during the last two years.

c. TCCC received a grant aid of US$1,000,000 from the Dalai Lama Trust. This fund was a great source of inspiration and motivation for us, as it really saved TCCC and helped us to get out of the problems related to the liens. Without this grant, it could have been almost impossible for the Tibetan community in Toronto to make any headway in our effort to rescue TCCC. With huge liabilities and serious related legal cases pending against TCCC, the one million dollar although a huge amount was still not sufficient to solve all the existing problems. Even after spending almost four million dollars ($4,000,00) on the building (Lien payments included) so far since August 2011, TCCC remains incomplete even without a proper kitchen today. With the magnitude of problems existed in 2011, I fail to understand under what circumstances did we visualise then the viability of the proposition of establishing a Centre for Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at TCCC within a short period of two years. A mere project report on a piece of paper without taking into consideration the ground realities was found to be not sufficient to realize the vision of His Holiness. To a large extend the challenges of lack of physical infrastructure and pathetic financial incapability that was inherited in 2011 continues till today. It is my honest and candid belief that these challenges will remain within the foreseeable future unless a realistic and practical plan, based on sound analytical understanding, is put in place to bring fruition to the vision of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

2. Towards the end of April 2012 our Vice President Kelsang Phuntsok la and I had been very fortunate to avail a brief audience with H.H. the Dalai Lama at the VIP lounge in Toronto International Airport (on way back from Ottawa to New Delhi) to brief His Holiness about the work being carried out at TCCC since August 2011. Among other related important issues Holiness graciously advised us to seek the possibility of starting a Centre for study of Buddhist philosophy. Subsequently we approached Prof. Thupten Jinpa la in Montreal for his assistance and guidance. Although Prof. Jinpa la was willing to provide advice and assistance, it was considered not practical at that time to move towards starting such a Centre. In order to start a Centre for Buddhist studies commensurate with image and vision of H.H. the Dalai Lama, there is the obvious need for human resource capability with appropriate academic qualification and passion to implement such a project. Our community is challenged in that respect. Lack of the important human resource capability will continue to be a constraint in future unless necessary alternative is not sought

3. Although there is much improvement in the present financial position, the TCCC remain in a precarious situation because of the following unfavourable conditions.

a. Since its inception, TCCC has internally invested eight million and eight hundred thousand dollars (8.8 million dollars) in the building so far. This figure is from our last year’s audited Financial Statement. Against this huge investment of $8.8 million dollars, the bank appraised value of our property as of today stands at 2.04 million dollars. Therefore, there is loss of value to the tune of 6.8 million dollars. These losses must guide us to be extremely careful in whatever plan we intend to do in future.

b. After investing 8.8 million dollars so far there is a further need for about one million and two hundred thousand dollars ($1,200,000) to build a kitchen as well as to rebuild the dismantled front office and back portion of the building, where the three statues remain exposed to the elements. The requirement of another 1.2 million dollars is my best estimate to bring back TCCC to its original level of space occupancy. To raise these funds amongst fund-raising-fatigued community members is not going to be easy anymore.

c. The debt asset ratio in our case is 115%. This means that the TCCC owe dollar one and a cent for every dollar it owns. In actual as of today, TCCC has no equity in the building in spite of the massive investment of 8.8 million dollar.

d. The equity (mortgage+loan) of TD Bank in our asset is around 92%. This means that out of one dollar that the Tibetan community owns through TCCC, 92 cents are owned by TD Bank in reality.

e. There is a Demand Loan for $677,000 from TD Bank. The Demand Loan is not a regular term loan. These are payable within 10 days of the demand irrespective of TCCC is at default or not. The bank may demand immediate payment whenever they see that the Bank’s interest is or likely to be compromised because of a new situation. Thus, the Demand Loan from TD Bank is the biggest risk element for TCCC at present.

f. The monthly operating expenses are around $30,000. To generate cash income of $30,000 month after month will always be a challenge for TCCC given its limited resources. There is no tangible regular source of income to meet the monthly operating expenses. This is a big challenge and this challenge, if unmanaged, could pose a major risk to the Centre in future.

g. There is still the $734,000 dollars in Community interest free Loan. Currently, this loan amount from the community members is the financial backbone of TCCC. The unwavering commitment from the community members and their strong resilience has mainly contributed to the coming back to life of TCCC in the past. But it will be difficult to take their support for granted all the time.

h. During the last one year TCCC has paid around $240,000 as mortgage, capital of the Demand Loan and interests thereupon. On an average TCCC will continue to pay this amount every year for the next ten years in a decremented way. Major part of $30,000 monthly operating expenses goes to cover these payments.

i. It might be financially prudent to realize that, at the end of 11 years repayment, $250,000 would be the Interest portion of the Demand Loan of $750,000 at the current rate of interest, which presently is at a historical record low. This amount will go up considerably when the current prime rate of 1% in Canada goes up. With improving global economic sentiments the existing stimulating low interest rate is bound to go up soon. Therefore, if there is some room and scope for the Dalai Lama Trust, some reasonable grant at this stage to TCCC will save a huge amount on the high interest payment, which eventually will cost the TCCC a whooping $250,000 at the end of 11 years. Such a grant would also help TCCC to mitigate the risk posed by undependable and irregular cash flow to meet its obligation of managing the monthly operating expenses effectively.

4. One of the most difficult tasks we undertook after August 2011 was working with the general contractor Maystar to clear off the $1,451,406 dollar Lien. Without cleaning up this Lien, there was no way we could move forward. With limited available funds we adopted a strategy to clear the Lien in part and pay for the renovation work simultaneously. Therefore, we encouraged the general contractor to remove the legal Lien on our property. The unpaid remaining part of the Lien was requested to be registered as a Second Mortgage payable by monthly installments beginning first by December 2011, which was later extended to June 2012. When we failed to make payment of these monthly installments, we approached the Dalai Lama Trust for further assistance. Although I eventually submitted a project plan for $400,000 dollars, which in part is being implemented, I hade been clear from the beginning, written and verbally, that the primary objective of the fund assistance would be to clear the Second Mortgage in default. Finally we received $200,000 as a matching fund from the Dalai Lama Trust after securing $120,000 as donation from Maystar. The matching fund received from the Dalai Lama prevented Maystar from pursuing other means to secure their interest. Thus solved the problem of the second mortgage on TCCC’s property. We are grateful for this matching fund from the Dalai Lama Trust.

Finally, I would like to draw attention to our meeting at Beacon Hotel in New York. It has now come to the knowledge of the Tibetan community members here that Private Office and the Dalai Lama Trust had convened a meeting at New York. I received several suggestions from the members requesting me to put in record what I had said in the meeting. It is partly because of their suggestion and as well as personal sense that I must put in writing my involvement and perspectives that I am submitting this memorandum. Doing so is intended to serve a larger purpose that what ever future course preferred takes into consideration my humble suggestions and perspectives wherever they are found to be of any use. It is also intended that the Private Office and the Dalai Lama Trust will have some useful information related to the TCCC. The above mentioned informations are based on actual facts and events that I have either experienced or have known during my two years of involvement in running the affairs of TCCC. If any successful events had occurred during the last two years, then those successes are the results of the dedicated works of our community members and many individuals who have put the interest of the TCCC before self and tried to live up to the hope and trust of the larger Tibetan community members in Toronto.

Seemingly several lapses had occurred in the past. I have lightly touched upon some of these lapses under different contexts in the memorandum. I have done so deliberately with the understanding that the past mistakes become lessons for the future. The objective of my humble memorandum would be achieved if reminding the past lapses throws up some light as a warning that any unprofessional planning and reckless financial commitment in future may cripple the backbone of the strong resilience so far shown by TCCC and its members. It is in this light, I hope that my submissions are understood.

Based on my understanding of the above mentioned financial challenges confronting TCCC it is my truthful submission that TCCC will continue to experience physical, financial and professional constraints to be able to establish a proper Centre for Buddhist and Tibetan Studies that is reputable and draw respectable students as per the vision of His Holiness. It should be the proud dream of every member of the Tibetan community, including my humble self, in Toronto to make realise the vision of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to start a Centre for Buddhist Studies at the TCCC. Because of my practical experience and involvement at TCCC for two good years, I am motivated to submit that any viable future plan for TCCC must not only be inspirational, it must take into consideration the ground realities of the strengths and weaknesses of the TCCC. More importantly, a plan that takes into consideration how to mitigate the challenges, particularly the lack of physical infrastructure, financial incapacities and lack of competent and resourceful human resource, will surely propel the success of His Holiness’s vision.

This Memorandum is being forward to the former and current President of TCCC, Norbu Tsering la and Tsering Tsomo la respectively. Both of them are requested to point out honestly and candidly if any variance and discrepancies found in the financial figures referred above. I have no hesitation to leave a margin of error of one to two percent except in the case of the estimated cost to rebuild a kitchen, the front office, and back portion of the building where the statues are located. Here the cost could be much higher. I am also forwarding a copy to a very important and dear friend and supporter of Tibetan community in Toronto, Will Sutherland la, for his information. He has my respects all the time.

I consider myself fortunate to be able to serve and lead my community as its President. During the two years of my involvement with TCCC I have tried to put on priority the interest of the community before anything else. I have tried my best to live up to the hope and trust of the larger Tibetan community members. Yet I must seek forgiveness for any inadequacies that I might have carried as the President of the Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre and the Canadian Tibetan Association of Toronto from 2011-2013.

Tashi Deleg to all.

Sincerely,

(Kunsang Tanzin)

Kunsang Tanzin Toronto

NOTICE: Confidential message which may be privileged. Unauthorized use/disclosure prohibited.