The Ministry of Social Protection has announced the Interim Management Committee (IMC) which will replace the deposed Guyana Public Service Co-operative Credit Union Limited (GPSCCUL) Management Committee.
A press statement from the office of Minister Keith Scott identified the IMC members as Justice Prem Persaud, immediate past Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission as the Officer in Charge; Patsy Russel, a Business Consultant with a rich banking background; Trevor Benn, Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission; Rajdai Jagarnauth, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Business; Gillian Pollard, Deputy Director of the Budget, Ministry of Finance; Oneidge Walrond- Allicock- Legal Officer, Ministry of Public Telecommunications; and Patrick Mentore, Human Resource and Training Manager at the Guyana Maritime Administration.
The release explained that while the takeover has meant that all operations were suspended and the office closed, the office will be reopened at 8.30am today with the IMC in charge.
Justice Persaud has been identified as the Officer-in-Charge of Management of the Affairs of the Agency as well as an ex-officio member of the Management Committee.
Further, an Auditor in the person of George Vaughn has been appointed to commence work today, according to the statement.
Workers of the credit union have been assured that their jobs are not in jeopardy and have been asked to report to work as usual.
Specifically they have been asked not “to be misguided or distracted” by any other agency or person.
Meanwhile the deposed committee is still preparing its legal case. Sources indicated to Stabroek News that the legal challenge to the move by the Chief Co-operatives Development Officer (CCDO) wresting control of the credit union from the Management Committee will be filed “soon.”
Last Friday, a team led by CCDO Perlina Gifth seized control of the GPSCCU from the Management Committee, saying that it had ignored previous urgings to abide by the law.
At the centre of the dispute is the legality of waivers issued to the credit union by Former PPP/C Minister of Labour Nanda Gopaul.
The waivers, which were granted from 2002 to 2013, absolved the GPSCCU from contributions to the Co-operatives Audit and Supervision Fund. Instead, the union was empowered to utilise the sums for its “educational and developmental needs.”
At a press conference on Monday, Chairperson of the ousted GPSCCU Management Committee Patricia Went explained that the current Labour Department, led by Scott, deemed the waivers unlawful since they were signed by the then CCDO, who was not authorised to grant any such waivers.
The current CCDO is requesting $49 million in retroactive payments to the fund for the years 2002 to 2013 as a result.
However, in a letter dated February 10th, 2017, Gopaul had informed the ministry that during his tenure, acting in accordance with Section 55 of the Cooperatives Societies Act, he authorised the waivers and in every instance the CCDO, on his instruction, communicated the decision to the credit union.
Section 55 of the Act grants the minister the authority, by general and special order, to exempt any registered society from any provision of the Act.
Gopaul further noted that in July, 2013, GPSCCU was authorised to retain all subsequent appropriations for the Audit and Supervision Fund, save and except for an annual payment of $500,000, which was to be remitted to the Guyana National Co-operatives Union Limited and to meet its costs for auditing, arbitration, inquiry and other inspections.
Despite these assurances Minister Scott, according to Went, has demanded that the union sign a revised financial statement, which makes it liable to government for $49 million.
The Ministry has refused to release the 2011, 2012 and 2013 audited accounts for the GPSCCU, without which an Annual General Meeting (AGM) cannot be held. It is the absence of these accounts which has prevented the credit union from paying dividends, Went explained.