It is with a sinking heart that I respond to a letter under the caption “The Belle Vue Farmers’ Story” purportedly under the hand of Shyam Balkarran and published in the Kaieteur News of November 23, 2019.
First, when I joined the management team of the Ministry of Labour as it was in 2014 and under whose superintendence of the Co-operative function of Government fell, I encountered serious issues pertaining to the Belle-Vue-Farmers’ Co-operative Society.
After several years of engaging all interested Parties and Stakeholders the contentious issues were resolved through the conduct of an Annual General Meeting in December, 2018 at which a Committee of Management was elected by the legitimate members of the Society.
During the years of engagement by the Ministry of Labour now Ministry of Social Protection all interested Parties were given hearings and opportunities to be heard before any and every decision was made and I must say that in every instance the Ministry was guided by the Rules contained in the Co-operative Societies Act, Chapter 88:01.
I have consulted the “Pocket Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus” which defines the word Rule as “a statement of what must be done or not done.
This definition in my opinion confirms to the nature of laws and their associated regulations which, inter alia, help managements to function with integrity but not without flexibility.
In this regard and in view of the fact that many Co-operative Societies were previously penetrated by certain individuals with less than honourable intentions including those linked to money laundering, all personnel in the Co-operative Development Unit of the Ministry constantly keep in focus Section 21 of the Act which reads as follows;
“In order to be qualified for membership of a Co-operative Society a person, other than a registered society, must, at the time of application
(a) Be resident within or in occupation of land within the society’s area of operations as described by the rules”.
The operation of this Section of the Law undoubtedly means that no one residing outside of Guyana can properly be a member of a Co-operative Society in Guyana.
During the course of addressing the issues which plagued the Belle-Vue-‘Co-op Society’ a gentleman who responded to the name of Balram Balkarran or (b). Balkarran interfaced with this Ministry purportedly as a member and representative of the members of the Society.
It was eventually discovered that Cde. Balkarran was not residing in Guyana but in Canada. Never-the-less whenever he sought an engagement with the Ministry’s officials, he was always facilitated in the interest of finding an amicable solution to the issues which prevailed and even those which emerged, along the way.
Over the years the Ministry in conjunction with the legitimate members of the Society would develop workable solutions which were acceptable to the Stakeholders.
However, whenever Cde. Balkarran visited Guyana he would instigate some individuals to contest the decisions which were mutually arrived at and which were working smoothly. He would not only encourage them to seek an overturning to decisions but also encourage them to boycott meetings called by the Ministry to ventilate their grievances. Some of them as is evidenced in the excerpt below have concluded in a letter dated March 26, 2019 that Mr. Balkarran had misled them.
Excerpt of Letter of March 26, 2019.
“We the undersigned hereby agree to settle all pending matters with the Belle-Vue-Cane Farmers Co-op Society in regards to illegally occupying the Co-op lands.
Please be informed that we were misled by Balram Balkarran for occupying the Belle-Vue-Co-op Lands.
Sdg (six members)”
The letter from which the above excerpt was made, was written after the December 2018 Annual General Meeting, at which the current Management Committee was elected.
As far as I am aware the current Management Committee is functioning well enough to the satisfaction of the members and the Ministry.
Accordingly, I hereby submit that even though Mr. Balkarran is not a legitimate member of the Society he was never-the-less heard in every instance that he requested that treatment.
I am of the considered opinion that the Ministry of Social Protection has done everything humanly, morally and legally possible to resolve the issues which hindered the functioning of the Belle Vue Co-op Societies for years.
We cannot afford to allow any individual who has no standing in the matter to perpetually obstruct the smooth functioning of the Society.
I have observed that in all previous correspondences from Mr. Balkarran the initial B or the name Balram was used as a First Name but in the letter under review the First Name used is Shyam which is a name by which he is also known in Belle Vue before he migrated to Canada. That is his ‘call’ name.
Finally, I believe that the Ministry has already expended vast amounts of resources in addressing this matter which should now be considered closed, without any further treatment.
To do otherwise, would be subscribing to an abuse of authority and goodwill, which can ill afford.
Further I say not.
Mr. Francis Carryl
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