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…as new GPSCCU executive take up posts
By Lisa Hamilton
With the election of Trevor Benn as the new Chairman of the Guyana Public Service Cooperative Credit Union (GPSCCU) along with his team, members of the Credit Union can expect car loans and mortgages as new inclusions to their benefits as soon as mid-May and August, respectively.
Benn received the highest votes ever cast for an individual at the Credit Union’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) election on April 11, peaking at 1055.
Meanwhile, his team swept up all the spots available receiving higher votes than their competitors. All members of the team also received higher votes than Benn’s main competitor, President of the GPSU Patrick Yarde who received 143 votes while Benn’s team members received between 467 – 905 votes. In an interview with the Village Voice News last Tuesday, Benn said that he and his team are excited to continue on the positive improvements that have been ongoing at the Credit Union.
Though winning came like a landslide, it wasn’t without push back from Yarde and others. Mere days before the AGM Election, Yarde sent out a letter threatening that Benn either removes himself from the Credit Union or face legal action. Yarde pointed out to the media that cooperative laws state that someone who is convicted by the court should not be on the Committee of Management of the Credit Union. However, Benn, who is before the Court for charges of alleged misconduct in public office, has not been convicted. Benn told the Village Voice News: “I never took it seriously because I know that Mr. Yarde found himself in a difficult place. He realised that he was losing all of the support and that he wasn’t going to win, so he came up with that ploy. Mr. Yarde is fully aware of the rules of the organisation which says that the only way you can remove somebody is if they’re convicted. I am before the Court
— the whole of Guyana knows that – and I’m defending that matter in court. So, it’s premature to even have that as a discussion leading up before the poling of the election.”
There were also allegations of voting irregularities and contention with the online voting system for some in light of the pandemic. Benn, however, said that there were no major issues in the voting process save for a few miscalculations by tired tabulators. In these cases, votes were off in the single digit. Nevertheless, with a major gap between Benn and his team and the other competitors, though the corrections were made, it did not impact the outcome.
GREAT THINGS COMING
Benn said that he is confident in his team, made up of diverse, skilled and experienced individuals, who are committed to improving operations and service at the Credit Union.
Speaking about immediate upcoming plans, he said that, for the first time, car loans at the value of no more than GYD $5 million will be made available to members beginning mid-May. Added to this, the Credit Union, under Benn’s leadership hopes to issue its first mortgage at the tune of GYD$15M by August 1, 2021.
There are also plans to build a modern building for the Credit Union through construction or renovation beginning by the end of 2021. Ongoing are plans to increase membership and to ensure business training and financial independence training for all interested members.
Benn said: “I want to thank the members for their support and for their confidence placed in myself and the team. We will continue to work aggressively to ensure that their interest is kept as a high priority for us. They can expect a lot more changes that will result in the benefit of the members currently and in the future.”
In the last three years, as Chairman of the Credit Union’s Interim Management Committee (IMC), Benn said that the Credit Union has already significantly improved as it relates to its records, facilities and its relationship with members. The IMC was set up in 2018 under the former APNU+AFC Government after alleged mismanagement claims against Yarde and others at the Union. Benn said that such improvements and more will continue under his leadership. “In a short space of time we transformed the organisation to one that is a lot more people-friendly, a lot more open and welcoming and a lot more progressive,” the new Chairman said.
“We paid, for the first time, dividend in over ten years, since 2011 no dividends were paid, and we paid all the dividends from 2011 to 2020. We also paid off all of the outstanding debts that we have and we’ve managed to keep to the organisation very healthy in terms of our finances. We’ve increased the number of members and we’ve established relations and representatives in all the regions now.”
Benn said that the number of days to receive a loan has also been reduced whereby a person could acquire the same in one day if that person has his or her documents in order. This, he said, is compared to the 2-3-week period it took previously. Meanwhile, cheques are only written in circumstances where an exception must be made as all monies are sent directly to a person’s bank account the same day with the lowest interest rate on the market. The last audit of the GPSCCU pegged its membership at 23,000.