Elections Delay Not Ministry Fault

Date Published: 
Guyana Chronicle
Telesha Persaud

HAD the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) last year complied with requirements in the Friendly Societies Act, the elections would have been held long before the end of 2010, Labour Minister Manzoor Nadir said yesterday.

Speaking with reporters at his office, Cornhill Street, Georgetown, the minister was reacting to recent statements made by president of the GCB, Mr Chetram Singh, that the Labour Ministry is holding up the elections process. In another section of the media, Singh had expressed his frustrations with the ministry with respect to the releasing of the Cricket Board’s audit, together with a report by an Inquirer that the ministry had been appointed to look into the affairs of the GCB.

Responding to such comments, the minister emphatically stated: “I want it to be recorded in no uncertain manner that the reason for the GCB not being ready to hold elections has nothing to do with the Ministry of Labour and everything to do with the GCB.”

A notice sent to the GCB by the Registrar of Friendly Societies on December 1, 2010 reportedly informed the GCB that it was in breach of Regulations under the Act, which requires all societies registered under it, to submit by May 1 of each year, the annual returns of the previous calendar year, ending December 31.

The GCB, through the said notice, was further advised that it could have held its annual general meeting only after an audit report was authorised and released by the Registrar of Friendly Societies. The notice said the GCB had until December 13, 2010 to comply with these requirements.

“If we had gotten their returns in early May, I’m sure we would have done the inquiry, the audit and they would have had their elections long before the end of last year. That wasn’t my fault. That’s the GCB’s fault,” the minister pointed out.

“The letter urged the GCB to get their house in order but instead they tried to have a meeting and one was set by January 30. But by then the audit wasn’t done,” he continued.

Nadir said the notice was sent one month before the GCB scheduled a meeting for elections on January 2, 2011. The GCB was registered under the Friendly Societies Act on July 25, 2008, and prior to this registration, it was not a legally registered entity.

“They (GCB) can’t produce one document to say that the GCB was a legally registered entity. That’s the first time the GCB had any legal recognition. The government didn’t cause this but instead tried its best to speed up the registration of the GCB,” he said.

The minister explained that the registration as a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) has implications. “Firstly, the government, in looking at charities for duty-free concessions and other incentives, can only deal with registered organisations. And I want to make it absolutely clear. My task in this is not delaying (but is) to ensure that the GCB and any NGO is managed properly, especially those that have national pride at heart.

“I give the commitment that this is not going to go forward until I sit and look at the Inquirer’s report with the GCB. Fortunately for them, we only got it recently and I will be out of the country until next week,” he stated.

According to him, the Registrar of Friendly Societies was supposed to have the final draft of the Inquirer’s report issued to the GCB by the end of yesterday. “That doesn’t mean that they have permission to go ahead and hold their meeting. I want them to sit with us and go through this report,” Nadir cautioned.

“We now have the audited statements and still have some issues on the Inquirer’s report … until those two are absolutely ready, it’s not going to be officially released to the GCB. Unless everything is in order, the Registrar of Friendly Society will be advised not to release these reports,” he said.

The next step in the process would be for GCB officials to meet with those from the Labour Ministry to look at the Inquirer’s report.

“It is in their interest because if there are queries there and they have valid answers, we will tell the inquirer to note such in his report. Because if there are ambiguous and contentious issues that are not addressed, then all the different factions that are now popping up here and there … they will have a lot of meat to chew on.”

“If Mr Singh wants to give up, he doesn’t have to wait on an election. He can tender his resignation. He doesn’t have to wait on me. If there are other executives who do not like how things are going, they can resign.

They don’t have to wait on the Ministry of Labour,” Nadir remarked.

According to Registrar of Friendly Societies and Chief Cooperative Development Officer, Mr Abdul Kareem Jabbar, if the situation gets out of control, the Friendly Societies can appoint an interim management committee for until such time as would be necessary to address the issues at hand.

Also at the meeting was Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security, Mr Trevor Thomas.