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…Benn says some 510 applications pending totaling more than $2B
By Svetlana Marshall
In less than three months, the Guyana Public Service Cooperative Credit Union (GPSCCU) has issued more than $240M in vehicle loans and mortgages as it responds to the overwhelming number of applications from its members.
Since the expansion of its financial products to include vehicle loans and mortgages, GPSCCU interviewed 150 of its members, who had applied for either of the products. From that number, 73 persons secured vehicle loans valuing $191,744,706 while four (4) persons secured mortgages totaling $51.5M. Currently, there are more than 320 applications on file at an estimated value of $800M for car loans and 190 applications for mortgages at a value of $1.4B.
That aside, the credit union processes approximately 600 character and guarantor loans at a value of over $186M per month.
“We have been pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming demand for the service,” Chairman of the Guyana Public Service Cooperative Credit Union (GPSCCU) Trevor Benn said in an interview with Village Voice Newspaper.
Benn said cognizant of the difficulties faced by its members in accessing loans and mortgages from the commercial banks, GPSCCU opted to expand its services to address the needs of its members.
He said due to the high demand for secured (vehicle) loans and mortgages, the credit union has hired additional staff to adequately meet the demands of its members. With a large pool of applications in the system, the GPSCCU Chairman said the credit union will do its best to facilitate as many loans as possible once the requirements are met, and the resources are available.
“The intention is to facilitate as many members as possible with these loans,” he posited.
The car loan product was launched last June under the theme ‘Wait is over’ as part of a range of financial services offered by the credit union. Members of the credit union are accessing the new loan product at a 1 percent interest rate at the reducing balance and zero percent equity.
The requirements, Benn said, are quite simple, explaining that applicants are required to submit quotations for the vehicle of their choice, income statements and contact details. He said while there is no requirement for equity, applicants, through their income statements, must demonstrate the capacity to repay the loan.
Benn said unfortunately, a large number of the GPSCCU members still do not qualify because of their low level of income, however, the credit union is exploring a number of avenues in an effort to assist them. “We are discussing internally, how to assist as many of them as possible while ensuring that we don’t put them under unnecessary pressure to be able to meet the payments,” he assured. He said the credit union is considering putting a number of low income members with minimal expenditures on a six-month trial to assess their saving pattern.
“So there are a number of decisions we are looking to make on a case by case basis because obviously the low income, many of them will not qualify,” he posited.
Similarly, GPSCCU is considering a menu of options to assist low-income members, who are interested in securing residential loans, but at the moment may not be eligible. “We want to look at ways in which we can lend for residential purposes, the lower income members, we will get a group of them to come together, where they will work on building each other’s home,” he said.
The GPSCCU Chairman said aside from the car loans and mortgages, members have been capitalizing on other financial services offered by the credit union. “But even without the car loans and residential mortgages, even without that, we are processing over 600 regular loans per month for our members. These are small loans between $300,000 and $1M per applicant,” Benn pointed out.
Benn said though the credit union has seen a consistent increase in membership since 2018, news of the new loan products has resulted in an even greater expansion in membership since January 2021. “So every month, we have approximately 400 new members joining, every month we are receiving about new applications for new membership,” he pointed out.
Benn was elected Chairman of GPSCCU on April 11, 2021 during the credit union’s Annual General Meeting (AGM). 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. Shortly after his election, Benn told Village Voice Newspaper that his team was excited to continue on the positive improvements that have been ongoing at the Credit Union.
In this most recent interview, Benn told Village Voice News that while members are pleased with the expansion in financial services, they are also pleased with the new environment. “It is beyond what we are offering, in terms of the new products; I think people are enthused about the new environment in which we are offering these new products. We are doing more to bring in more qualified staff members, we are training staff…and members are liking the kind of reception they get when they come. So it is more than just the new products. A number of people are coming, even though they know they don’t qualify just to get some guidance, financial advice…,” he explained.
Benn disclosed that the credit union is seriously considering the establishment of an ATM service to enable members to save more often. “Our members can begin to save a lot more with the credit union and would be able to access it outside of working hours,” he explained while adding too that GPSCCU is also hoping to establish a new complex where a variety of services can be accessed in the areas of health, childcare, food and finance among others.