Credit union body refuses to discuss petition by members

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—adjourns meeting early, claims budget for loans, mortgages still to be approved

A meeting of the Management Committee of the Guyana Public Service Cooperative Credit Union (GPSCCU) came to an early end on Saturday, after a number of the 11 Members present reportedly indicated that they had appointments at 13:00hrs that day.

It is unclear whether the Management Committee was scheduled to discuss a petition calling for Trevor Benn to be reinstated after last month’s No-Confidence Motion against him, however, the Village Voice Newspaper understands that the Secretary, Gillian Pollard, had the petition in her possession during the meeting. In the petition filed on Friday (April 13), members of the credit union called on the Committee of Management to convene an emergency meeting within 14 days for the No-Confidence Motion to be discussed. They have also called for the nine Members who supported the No-Confidence Motion to be removed from Office.

According to the Co-operative Societies Act Chapter 88:01, once a petition is filed, the Management Committee is required to called an emergency General Members Meeting within 14 days, regardless of whether that petition is discussed by the Management Committee.

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Outside of GPSCCU’s Hadfield Street Office, Committee Member Jermaine Hermanstyne was confronted by number of irate members, even as he attempted to provide them with an update.

In an in an interview with News In-Depth, Hermanstyne said the Management Committee was scheduled to discuss aspects of the 2022 budget for the provision of loans and mortgages, however, it was adjourned early.

“Today’s meeting was unfortunate because several of us, we had a 1 o’clock appointment and we attempted to ask the chairman if the agenda could be suspended for us to deal with the pertinent issues on the agenda, such as fixing the budget so that we can have loans and mortgages approved for this month and next…but before we had an opportunity to delve into those issues, the Vice Chairman, who chaired the meeting, said the meeting is adjourned. So we are in an awkward position, where we don’t have money now that is approved for people to get their loans and mortgages,” Hermanstyne explained.

But a member present, told Hermanstyne that the most important issue is that of the chairmanship.

“…because we don’t want y’all especially you, you are the key instigator behind this hold thing, we don’t want you and you have to go,” the member was heard telling Hermanstyne. The Management Committee Member subsequently left the area.

However, Benn, in an interview with News In-Depth, said contrary to the statement made by Hermanstyne, the Management Committee long approved a budget for mortgages and vehicle loans for 2022.

“So there is money to be able to continue for the rest of this year and so I am surprised to hear that there is no money. We had no discussion in meeting about money,” Benn said.

In a letter addressed to the Secretary of GPSCCU’s Management Committee, Gillian Pollard, the Chief Cooperative Development Officer (CCDO) Debbie Persaud not only acknowledged the motion purportedly passed on April 21, 2022, but in accordance with Regulations 22 of the Co-operative Societies Act Chapter 88:01, advised that the Management Committee can revoke the powers of the Chairman once there is a loss in confidence or mismanagement.

“As such, the Committee is ADVISED to elect a new Chairman as soon as possible and to notify the department of same. Also, in the interim the Vice Chairman should perform the duties of the Chairman,” a section of the letter dated May 4, 2022 read.

It noted that though Benn is being removed as Chairman, he remains a member of the Management Committee. At a press conference last Monday, the Management Committee accused Benn of divulging confidential information in the public domain.

In an earlier interview with the Village Voice Newspaper, he submitted that the Motion is null, void and of no effect because the correct procedures were not applied.

According to Benn, he was unaware that the meeting was being convened and secondly, that a Motion of No-Confidence was part of the agenda. It was explained that formal notices featuring the credit union’s letterhead are dispatched via email to all Committee Members, however, this time around, notice of the specially convened meeting was dispatched in a WhatsApp Group – on an informal platform.

“I missed the request for this meeting but even if I had seen it, I could not countenance it because if you are calling an extraordinary or a special meeting, you must put in writing the notice…and state the reason for the meeting; that was not done,” Benn explained.

Further, he submitted that the Chief Cooperative Development Officer was wrong for sanctioning the Motion without carrying out a proper investigation of the allegations against him.

“I don’t know what the allegations against me are; no allegation was put to me for me to respond. But if you are going to do a Motion of No-Confidence, there must be a reason and I must be given an opportunity to respond, and the CCDO needed to ascertain that, that took place but from where I sit, she has not done so,” Benn told the Village Voice Newspaper.

RAMPANT CORRUPTION

But while Benn said he is unaware of the ‘charges’ against him, he suspects that the motion was as a result of attempts by him to root out corruption from within the Management Committee.

“They are uncomfortable with me because I have been putting checks on spending, and so they are annoyed. They feel like whenever they have an issue, they must come and we will solve it financially. We helped two or three of them in the early days and then we decided that enough is enough and so they are unhappy,” Benn explained.

According to the Chairman of the GPSCCU, much to his dissatisfaction, the Management Committee also voted to disallow an investigation into an alleged falsification of receipts for items and services procured for a birthday party for one of the Committee Members. Additionally, it is alleged that a number of Committee Members instructed staff of the Credit Division to submit their incomplete applications for mortgage to the Credit Committee and subsequently approved the applications themselves. “There is another case, in which we were procuring a plot of land and a Member came to me personally and say he is going to get $3M if we purchase the land from his friend. So I instructed the staff that, that property must not be a part of the properties we consider; so there is a number of issues,” he said. It also alleged that a staff member had two loans approved for approximately $12M within a period of three months while members of the credit union are made to wait months for their applications to be reviewed.



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