…IMC says AGM to be held next year to elect management body
By Alva Solomon
SINCE its installation in May 2018, the interim management committee (IMC), installed to manage the Guyana Public Service Credit Union (GPSCCU), has made several significant moves to enhance the development of the cooperative.
At the same time, moves are afoot to introduce online applications for its 25,000 plus membership and if all goes well, the union may soon be issuing vehicle and housing loans to eligible applicants.
This was noted on Wednesday by officials of the GPSCCU during an interview on the Guyana Chronicle’s online programme, the Vantage Point.
Amid some controversy, the IMC was installed to manage the affairs of the credit union and although the management committee faced several uphill challenges, including being taken to court over its installation by the Chief Cooperative Development Officer of the Ministry of Social Protection.
Vice-chairman of the IMC, Patrick Mentore, noted that the committee was installed at a time when allegations arose about mismanagement of the union by the previous management committee.
“We had to overcome court challenges because the members of the previous management team felt that they should have probably stayed there forever,” he said, even as he noted that all the court proceedings filed by that previous body were thrown out by the courts. He said the IMC is awaiting payment of costs awarded to the committee by the courts in that regard.
Mentore said that the IMC created in the credit union a “more member-friendly environment.
He explained that the committee identified several shortcomings including training of staff, which he said, was necessary. A decision was taken to send ordinary members on overseas training, against the old practice of only directors being afforded such opportunities.
As it is, he said two directors would be sent on training programmes, along with a majority of ordinary employees and two members of the union.
He also disclosed that a financial software is being used by the credit union but employees did not understand the optimum features of the software. As such, training was proposed and undertaken.
When one visits the GPSCCU, there is noticeable efficient change as well as added security at the entrance and within the Hadfield Street office of the union.
Mentore said the credit union “operates in the mould of a bank”, and as such, its security was recognized as an area which needed upgrading. Closed Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV) and smoke detectors were among the initiatives undertaken to better secure the premises. He added that the building was also rehabilitated.
The credit union is famous among its membership for its loans. Previously, the window for the applicants to access loans would have closed in November each year. However, Paul Clarke, the union’s public relations officer (PRO), said that this was altered by the IMC. Loans can now be accessed as late as a week before Christmas and members can access same within the first week of 2020.
Mentore said in 2018, the IMC and staff identified that there were a limited number of member’s children who performed well at the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) examinations benefitting from bursaries.
He said it is not only about the ‘high flyers’ who needed to be recognized, adding that the number of awardees was increased to 50 students.
Clarke said this year 106 applications were made and that entire figure secured bursaries which entails coverage of costs for tuition and school supplies.
In an effort to reduce the cost for members travelling to the union to undertake business transactions, the credit union is in the process of developing systems to enable applicants to apply for loans online.
The union’s officials have travelled to the various administrative regions and has identified contact persons who can assist members in this area. “We are doing our best to ensure no additional cost is borne by the member,” Mentore said.
Mentore explained that the union has engaged those entities which have fallen down in arrears payments, and they have responded positively. He said the union recognizes there may have been reasons for shortcomings and the union is working to address such issues.
Since 2014, some persons applied for membership and the IMC was able to address that backlog. The current total membership of the credit union lies in the vicinity of 25,000 and of that figure, 1622 are new members since the IMC was installed.
Home ownership/vehicle loans
In 2020, the credit union aims to have an annual general meeting (AGM) which would see the IMC handing over control to an elected management body.
Clarke further said that members have been requesting loans to procure new homes or add features to existing homes. These sums are then used as a deposit at the commercial banks but the union recognizes that it can work towards issuing loans for home-ownership.
He explained that the sums would be sums which are “livable”, noting that the union is “known for its interest.” Additionally, in 2020, the union is looking to issue motor vehicle loans.
He said there are financial institutions who undertake promotions for vehicles and to obtain the down-payment, members would visit the credit union and head back to the bank. He said the union wants to now issue those loans even as he cautioned that there are rules regarding cooperatives which will be examined.
The bulk of the GPSCCU’s membership is drawn from the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Education, public sector agencies with the largest number being public servants.