THE Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) has threatened to take legal action if Trevor Benn, Chairman of the Guyana Public Service Cooperative Credit Union (GPSCCU)’s Interim Management Committee (IMC), is not removed from the post before the GPSCCU’s April 11, 2021 Annual General Meeting (AGM).
GPSU President Patrick Yarde said, on Wednesday, that the foregoing request was made by GPSU members to the Chief Development Cooperative Officer (CCDO) at the Ministry of Labour on Tuesday. Yarde told the Guyana Chronicle that several members of both the GPSU and the GPSCCU are calling for Benn’s removal as chairman at the much-anticipated AGM, in light of the criminal charges against him that are currently engaging the attention of the court. Benn, a former Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC), was hauled before the court on a misconduct in public office charge in connection with the alleged illegal leasing of State lands.
The call for Benn’s removal comes mere days before the Credit Union’s AGM on April 11, 2021, which will see the election of members of the management committee. Yarde is of the opinion that Benn should not be allowed to oversee the election, as it would cast “a bad light” on the entire Credit Union. In their letter to the governing body, GPSU and GPSCCU members said: “The cooperative laws state that someone who is convicted by the court should not be on the Committee of Management of the Credit Union. However, based on the severity of the allegations involving Mr. Benn, it was the expectations of the members of the Credit Union that the CCDO would have been professional in the decision-making process and remove Mr. Benn as Chairman of the Interim Management committee.”
The GPSCCU’s last elected management committee was removed from office on May 26, 2018, and replaced by the IMC by the Chief Cooperative Development Officer, Perlina Gifth.
The IMC was reportedly foisted on the credit union, owing to the alleged mismanagement by Yarde and others. Under the previous A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) administration, the Ministry of Social Protection had said that it was sorely disappointed with the conduct and behaviour of the credit union’s Committee of Management, to the extent that it even accused it of acting against the interest of its members and the principles of prudent management styles.
In a statement issued back in July 2017, the ministry’s Department of Labour had reported that the GPSCCU’s over 14,000 members had not been paid dividends for a number of years, because of the organisation’s inability, and in some respects, blatant refusal to hold an AGM.
An AGM is usually held upon the completion of the Audit of the Accounts of the Society, in conformity with the Provisions and Regulations as are contained in the Cooperative Societies Act, Chapter 88:01, of the Laws of Guyana.
Yarde, meanwhile, is of the opinion that the IMC has had plans for the April 21, 2021 management committee elections, as it has used the COVID-19 pandemic as a shield to implement systems that would guarantee its members a win at the upcoming event.
Yarde stated that the IMC has introduced electronic voting, which, in his view, would disenfranchise many voters who may not have access to electronic devices, or even the Internet to exercise their right to vote. He further highlighted that where before the GPSCCU was in the habit of covering the cost of its members travelling to its Hadfield Street headquarters to cast their vote, it will not be done this time around.