Feb 10, 2016 News
– findings to help Govt. craft needed policies
A forensic audit of the function of cooperatives throughout the country has been mandated by Government. The audit will be facilitated by a small team of individuals with an aggregate of over 100 years of experience in cooperatives and the management of cooperatives. The operation of the team became effective February 1, 2016.
This disclosure was made by Minister within the Social Protection Ministry, Keith Scott, as he made his contribution to the 2016 national budget debate Monday evening.
He told the House that the audit will, among other things, advise Government on the crafting of policies designed to repair the numerous breaches and create an entity capable of advancing national development.
And according to Scott, a key and critical aspect of the audit is a determination of the number of active and functioning co-operatives in existence.
“We believe that there are certain organizations out there, masquerading as cooperatives when in fact, their main purpose, is the given efficacy to illicit activities within the realms of money laundering,” Scott revealed.
As such he disclosed that “we have recently commenced and intend to continue training and conducting awareness sessions in Anti –Money Laundering and Countering Financing in Terrorism for personnel in the co-operative sector.”
During the latter half of 2015, a total of 65 such sessions were held not only centrally and in Region Four, but in other regions as well, Scott disclosed. It is for that reason, he added that the new focus that will be embraced is the decertification of non-functional co-operatives, astute monitoring of those functional, and arbitrates, in disputed cases, all in compliance with relevant legislation, including the Anti-Money Laundering Act.
Scott noted that it was just two weeks ago officers in the Labour Department attended an in- house seminar. The facilitators at that seminar included a competent Attorney at Law and the Chief Executive Officer of the State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU) who sensitized the participants on their roles in the protection of the State.
But the efforts of the Ministry will not end there as according to the Minister, “we will work along with BIT, TVET, Kuru Kuru College and Critchlow Labour College to position co-operatives on the front burner; where it will once again play a meaningful part in the grand scheme of development in our country.”
According to Scott, the Ministry is working tediously to restructure and reorganize its dysfunctional cooperative unit. In so doing, he said that efforts are being made to address the philosophy and practice of cooperativism which have been disgracefully stifled during the immediate past decades.
And Scott assured that “in this new dispensation we are determined to reverse that shameful situation of the past and position cooperatives where it rightfully belongs.”
In fact he made it clear to the House that Government is committed to the realization of the co-operatives as one of the pillars to sustain the economic development of the nation.
The importance of cooperatives, according to Scott, was emphasized on October 24, 1970 at the inauguration of the Guyana National Co-operative Bank by then Head of State, Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, who said, “We have chosen the vehicle of the co-operative as the means whereby we, the friendless of the earth, the disinherited, those who for centuries have been kicked and spat upon, should be combining our resources, bring to our country economic independence.
In this way our political significance and predominance, in this community, in this nation of Guyana should be reflected in economic terms…..Through the co-operative division of the office of the Prime Minister in consultation with the Ministries of economic Development and Education, we shall undertake the necessary training, using from time to time, the agency of the Cooperative Union which is basically a federation of co-operatives.”
Scott, in concluding his presentation, noted that “I need not emphasize the tremendous benefits which can be derived from a revitalized cooperatives department, but I wish to let it be known that the same interest and energies to be devoted to the cooperative would be likewise directed to the Friendly Societies, in so far as efficiency in their management are concerned.”
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