Chief Co-ops Of­fi­cer takes con­trol of pub­lic ser­vice credit union

Stabroek News Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

After two years of wran­gling, the Min­istry of So­cial Pro­tec­tion has taken con­trol of the af­fairs of the Guyana Pub­lic Ser­vice Co-op­er­a­tive Credit Union Lim­ited (GPSCCU).

An un­named in­terim com­mit­tee will as­sume man­age­ment func­tions and the staff mem­bers of the GPSCCU have been asked to re­port to the Depart­ment of Co­op­er­a­tives of the Min­istry of So­cial Pro­tec­tion on Mon­day rather that the credit union’s of­fice on Had­field Street.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the mem­bers of the credit union have been as­sured that the Had­field Street of­fice will re­open for busi­ness on Wed­nes­day, May 30th.

On Fri­day, a team led by Chief Co­op­er­a­tives De­vel­op­ment Of­fi­cer (CCDO) Per­lina Gifth seized con­trol from the GPSCCU Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee, which was led by Chair­per­son Pa­tri­cia Went.

Gifth was sup­ported by mem­bers of the Guyana Na­tional Co­op­er­a­tive Union Ltd, in­clud­ing Chair­man Der­rick Cum­mings, Di­rec­tor Fran­cis Car­ryl and Se­cu­rity Con­sul­tant Johnny Mort­ley, while mem­bers of the Guyana Po­lice Force and a pri­vate se­cu­rity ser­vice were on standby.

In a press state­ment is­sued on Fri­day, the Min­istry ex­plained that its ac­tions were “in con­form­ity with” the pro­vi­sions of the Co-op­er­a­tive So­ci­eties Act, which pro­vides that the ac­counts of ev­ery credit union shall be au­dited at least once an­nu­ally after which an An­nual Gen­eral Meet­ing (AGM) would be held to dis­cuss im­por­tant mat­ters, in­clud­ing the de­ter­mi­na­tion and pay­ment of div­i­dends to mem­bers.

Ac­cord­ing to the state­ment, the Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee of the GPSCCU did not find it nec­es­sary and ex­pe­di­ent to pru­dently con­clude the au­dits and con­se­quen­tial busi­ness in the in­ter­est of the sub­scrib­ing mem­bers.

It added that for more than two years the Min­istry of So­cial Pro­tec­tion had en­gaged the Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee, which it ad­vised to com­ply with the law, ex­hibit pru­dence and be­have ju­di­ciously so that the con­cerns of thou­sands of pub­lic ser­vants and other pub­lic sec­tor em­ploy­ees could have been ad­e­quately ad­dressed.

“Rather than ad­her­ing to the ad­vice and prompt­ings of the Min­istry, the Credit Union Man­age­ment re­mained adamant and numb to the mem­bers’ pleas while se­lect mem­bers of the Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee con­tin­ued to en­joy un­jus­ti­fied ben­e­fits at the ex­pense of the mem­bers. The Min­istry of So­cial Pro­tec­tion has de­cided that the time has come for a restora­tion of the dig­nity for which the Credit Union was pre­vi­ously known, hence the de­ci­sions of the CCDO,” it stated.

The Min­istry’s ver­sion of events dif­fers greatly from that of the credit union.

Last Septem­ber, the credit union ac­cused Min­is­ter Keith Scott of “fi­nan­cial bul­ly­ism” after he re­quested that the union pay over $49 mil­lion in retroac­tive con­tri­bu­tions to an Au­dit and Su­per­vi­sion Fund for the years 2002 to 2013.

The credit union held that it had been granted a waiver by for­mer Min­is­ter of Labour Nanda Gopaul and had said that Scott was ob­struct­ing the re­lease of the 2011 to 2013 au­dit re­ports, there­fore, block­ing the hold­ing of its AGM, and as a re­sult, the pay­ment of div­i­dends to mem­bers. It was also stated that the min­istry re­fused to au­dit the 2014 to 2016 records.

This ex­pla­na­tion was not enough for some mem­bers, a small group of whom protested the union in Fe­bru­ary of this year.

The pro­tes­tors had called on the Min­istry of So­cial Pro­tec­tion to ad­dress the mat­ter as they al­leged that funds were be­ing mis­used.

It ap­pears the Min­istry has heard and re­sponded to their re­quest as it ex­plained that the de­ci­sion to as­sume con­trol was taken “after care­fully con­sid­er­ing the un­sat­is­fac­tory per­for­mance of the pre­vi­ous Man­age­ment team which failed to man­age the af­fairs of the So­ci­ety in the best in­ter­est of its mem­bers and within the pa­ram­e­ters of the rel­e­vant Laws.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry, it has been mon­i­tor­ing the per­for­mance of the re­placed Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee for sev­eral years and it was not sat­is­fied that the af­fairs of the credit union were be­ing han­dled within the realms of in­tegrity, trans­parency and pro­fes­sion­al­ism.

The man­age­ment team which was re­moved in­cludes Chair­per­son Went, Vice-Chair­per­son Vera Naughton, Trea­surer Uh­lan Leander, Mem­bers Thomas Nestor, Pa­trick Yarde, Mau­rice Veecock, Dawn Gar­dener, Jer­maine Her­manstyne, Regi­nald Brother­son, Ken­neth Wat­son, Grace McKend and Ivelaw Henry, along with Sec­re­tary/Man­ager Trevor Benn.

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