By Francis Quamina Farrier
THE curtains came down on the five-acts of BANKS DIH Ltd. Annual Shareholders Meetings at New Amsterdam last Sunday, and as usual, there were some “showers of blessings” on the proceedings. It was another successful year for what has been referred to as “The Winning Team”; BANKS DIH Ltd.
The five ‘acts’ commenced with the large Shareholders Annual Meeting at Thirst Park in Georgetown on Saturday, January 26, 2019. Before that meeting commenced, a pleasant mood was set for shareholders as they arrived, with music by the Guyana Police Force Band under the direction of the Bandmaster Superintendent Charmaine Stuart. The music was of standard compositions and included Guyanese folk and patriotic songs such as “Beautiful Guyana” by Hilton Hemerding.
The Thirst Park meeting was followed with Branch Meetings at Airy Hall on the Essequibo Coast, Region Two, on January 27; at Bartica on the Essequibo River, Region Seven, on January 30; at Linden on the Upper Demerara River, Region 10, on February 1; and finally at New Amsterdam, Region Six, on February 3.
The main annual Shareholders Meetings have been held at Thirst Park for the past 63 years, with the four Branch Meetings being held for about 20 years. By tradition, all meetings commence with prayers, as well as a moment of silence to the memory of those shareholders who would have passed on since the previous meeting. That moment of silence is also to the memory of the company’s first Chairman, the late Peter Stanislaus D’Aguiar who was a member of the Board of Directors and his wife Kathleen D’Aguiar.
“There is no other private company in Guyana with shareholders from the public, which can make any substantiated claim to such democracy and transparency as BANKS DIH,” said one of the long-standing shareholders. The retention of the directors, payments and expenses and other annual financial matters by the company, are approved by the vote of shareholders who attend the meeting at Thirst Park. And while there have been hundreds of employees who have served the company with dedicated loyalty earning for themselves “long service” recognition, there have been a few deviants who have betrayed the responsibility entrusted to them and have had their services terminated.
Having reported on the two Essequibo Branch Meetings at Airy Hall and Bartica last week, I will now share with you some of what transpired at Linden and New Amsterdam as the annual meetings came to a close. Entering that Bauxite Mining town of Linden at the end of a 40-minute drive along the Soesdyke/Linden Highway, one can recognise progress; and I consider myself in a “Fit and Proper” position to make such a statement, having spent one year at Christianburg, decades before it became one of the three wards of the town of Linden. I have since visited dozens of times over the past 70 years and seen its development including that brought by BANKS DIH Ltd.
Of note at Linden, as well as the other locations this year, is the increase of younger shareholders attending the meetings, no doubt those who are second and third generation BANKS DIH shareholders; young people who have had their shares bequeathed to them by parents, grandparents or other family members who have passed on. The tradition of submitting to questions, criticisms and recommendations, by shareholders, (including a few via mail), to Company Chairman, Clifford B. Reis, CCH, has set a high standard for Leaders, whether in the private or public sector. To stand at a podium facing a large attendance of your company’s shareholders and have a range of questions, criticisms and
recommendations directed your way, is not for the faint of heart. At Linden in 2019, as well as in previous Branch Shareholders Meetings in the mining town, some questions and comments even go to the personal; the colour of the hair of the directors being one example. The Chairman seems to know when to “add a dash of humour”, whenever necessary in responding to questions of a certain kind.
At this 2019 Linden meeting, Clifford Reis was loud in his praise of Branch Manager Shaundell Easton, who continues to perform at a very high standard year after year. Easton and her sister-Branch Manager at Bartica, Amanda Murray, make even the number of male and female Branch Managers in gender. There seems to be no ‘Glass Ceiling’ for female management at BANKS DIH Ltd. Worthy of mention is the wonderful performance of a choir of very young students of the St. Aden’s School, who entertained the visiting Management Team and Shareholders with beautifully performed Guyanese Folk Songs.
Finally at New Amsterdam last Sunday, Branch Manager Reginald Matthews reported of another successful year with increased sales. Later, the chairman told the Berbice Shareholders of the company’s community relations and partnerships and the company’s sponsorship of sports and religious events, also the awarding of scholarships in subjects related to the BANKS DIH products. He also informed them of the special kind of service which is the hallmark of Citizens Bank, which has the motto of “Where you belong”.
The company’s tradition of presenting cheques to schools at all the Annual Meetings, resulted in The Winifred Gaskin Secondary on the Corentyne Coast and the Number Five Primary in West Berbice, being recipients at the New Amsterdam meeting. And so, it’s on to 2020 when the BANKS DIH WINNING TEAM will likely be serenaded by the Guyana Police Force Band with the standard Beatles song, “When I’m 64” at their 64th Annual Shareholders Meeting at Thirst Park.