GAWU Credit Union optimistic of new members with estates’ reopening

Executives of GAWU Credit Union at Saturday’s Annual General Meeting

The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Cooperative Credit Union Society Limited is optimistic that the Government’s decision to reopen the closed sugar estates will result in an increase in membership following the decline back when the former APNU/AFC Administration closed four sugar estates and sacked over 7000 sugar workers.

GAWU Credit Union Treasurer Seepaul Narine

The Credit Union concluded its 26th and 27th Annual General Meetings (AGM) on Saturday last where over $5 million was shared out to its members.
Chairperson of the Society’s Management Committee, Gaietri Baron told the AGM that the credit union lost thousands of members at a time when they were steadily gaining membership as more and more workers were being encouraged by the benefits and opportunities offered by the Society.
Meanwhile, the Society’s Secretary, Sattie Basdeo reported on the work and activities of the credit union, explaining that while there have been challenges there is optimism as the re-opening of estates will offer the opportunity for increased membership. She noted too that despite the difficulties, the credit union remained financially sound.

Some members of the GAWU Credit Union

However, she said that remittances from the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) to the Society are delayed but they are actively engaging the Corporation to have it pay up at the earliest time possible.
The Society’s Treasurer, Seepaul Narine told members that for the years 2018 and 2019, the Society recorded surpluses $4,918,076 and $2,355,663, respectively. He informed the meeting that in both years, the Co-operatives Department of the Ministry of Labour had sought the Society to pay 1 per cent of its working capital as audit and supervision fees.
He noted that the significant fees demanded would have left the credit union with little or nothing to distribute to members and as a result representation was made to the Co-operatives Department to accept 10 per cent of the surplus as is outlined in the law.
The Co-operatives Society Act requires Societies to pay either 10 per cent of their surplus or 1 per cent of their working capital as audit and supervision fees to the Co-operatives Division. Following the demand of the Co-operatives Division, the Society represented diligently for 10 per cent of the surplus to be paid to allow an appropriate sum to be available for distribution to members. After some consideration, the Co-operatives Division approved the request.
Narine said that GAWU had approached Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton advocating that the Act be amended to require credit unions to pay 10 per cent of their surplus as audit and supervision fees.
Apart from audit and supervision fees, statutorily the Society is obligated to set aside 20 per cent of its surplus towards its Statutory Reserve, allowing the remainder to be distributed as the AGM approves.
At Saturday’s AGM, a 1.75 dividend was approved to be paid to all members who had ordinary savings balances at the end of 2018 and a 21 per cent interest rebate of interest payments paid by members during 2019 was also approved.
“These two measures will see members benefitting from nearly $5 million in their accounts. This is testament to the commitment of the GAWU Credit Union to give back to its members,” the Union said in a statement.
Nine persons were also elected to the Committee of Management.
The GAWU Credit Union, in existence for nearly three decades, continues to be an important avenue for workers to set aside monies for savings. It has enabled many members to acquire items for their homes, to assist on rainy days or even to set aside for their older days. (G2)