Ramayah should visit Upper Corentyne Fishermen’s Co-op before making unfounded allegations
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Dear Editor,

THE Upper Corentyne Fishermen’s Co-operative Society wishes to refute the allegation made by Verasammy Ramayah on national television around October 6, 2021.
For starters, he does not know what type of licence the fishermen who fish in Suriname’s waters have.

Members of this co-op who fish in Suriname’s waters have S.K Licences which permit them to fish legally in Suriname’s waters, and an arrangement that allows them to land their catch at the Upper Corentyne Fishermen’s Co-op Society. Ninthly-five per cent of the catch landed is sold on the export market, thus earning Guyana valuable foreign exchange, while the remainder is sold for local consumption.

As for his claim that the “big fishermen” who own 15-20 boats “eat out the small ones”, I’ll have him know that all members of this co-operative society enjoy the same privileges. All are given access to all facilities at our landing site at Number 66 Village, Corentyne; all are treated equally, and given the same opportunity.

And, No, Mr Ramayah, the government does not help us pay our bills; the co-op does not receive any subsidy from government and has not asked for any. What we did ask of the government was for it to look at the issue where fishermen were being asked to pay, and are paying, VAT on items that were listed as VAT-exempt.

CLAIM: “The last 15 years, the same people became members. They rotate the members only.”

RESPONSE: The co-op’s registered members are not rotating. The Committee of Management is duly elected by the membership at the Annual General Meeting of the Co-operative Society. No selection is being done; all members have equal opportunity to be elected as committee members during a process which is transparent and supervised by the Co-op Department, guided by the by-laws governing co-operative societies.

CLAIM: “On a visit by the Vice-President of Guyana and team to the Number 66 in-shore fish port complex, only certain people were allowed to enter the compound, and be a part of the meeting, or to complain to the Vice-President; others were left outside of the entrance.

RESPONSE: The Upper Corentyne Fishermen’s Co-operative Society categorically denies this allegation. No member, or member of the public, was denied entry to attend the meeting. The media was present, and can testify to this untruth being peddled by V. Ramayah. A notice inviting all to the meeting was placed on the Co-op Society’s bulletin board several days before the event, and on the day of the meeting, members were contacted, via telephone, reminding them of the meeting.

The Upper Corentyne Fishermen’s Co-op Society Limited has, over the years, become one of the better managed cooperative societies in Guyana. In 2018, it was awarded by the Ministry of Social Protection for being the “Most Compliant Co-operative Society in Guyana”; meaning that it has followed the best practices in record keeping, transparency and accountability, and in 2021, it was awarded by the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries Division as the “Most Improved Co-operative Society of Guyana”.

This co-operative has been “a role model” to other co-ops in the country, offering training, advice and other forms of assistance. Its landing site is one of the largest in the country, and is famed for its quality of fresh fish, excellent hygienic practices, and being a safe and secure location to do business. Our achievements are too numerous to mention in this article, and we were astonished and deeply concerned by the disparaging remarks made by Verasammy Ramayah, and sought to set the record straight.

We are deeply concerned that members of the public would get a false impression of this co-operative society, after hearing the comments by Ramayah, and do hope this article will serve to make up for some of the damage done to our reputation.

And to Verasammy Ramayah, so-called public activist, we would like you to come and visit our location and see for yourself how the affairs of the co-operative society is managed, before making any conclusion.

Yours Sincerely,
Pamashwar Jainarine
Chairman, Upper Corentyne Fishermen’s Co-operative Society Limited
On behalf of the Committee of Management

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