Friday, April 24, 2009

NBS responds to sharp criticisms

THE Board of Directors of the New Building Society Limited (NBS) have reviewed statements appearing in some sections of the media attributed to particular spokesperson(s) calling themselves “concerned members”. These statements are considered slanderous/ libelous, misleading and mischievous.

The Society wishes to set the records right. It must be made clear that the Board of Directors have always and will always act in accordance with the Rules of the Society and good governance practices. We now wish to clarify the undermentioned issues:


The Notice of the Annual General Meeting and Agenda was first published in the Guyana Chronicle on 3rd April 2009 and subsequently in other newspapers in keeping with the rules. The Notice and Agenda was also displayed at the Chief Office and all of its Branch Offices from the same date. A contributor to the Business Page of Stabroek News of April 19, 2009 failed to mention that fact.


The Society’s Pension Scheme currently holds a Flexible Annuity Policy of approximately $111M with CLICO. This is contrary to speculations contained in the Kaieteur News of 15th April, 2009 and Business page of the Stabroek News, of 19th April 2009, that the Society may have negotiated redemption of its Pension Scheme Investment in CLICO at the time of purchase of the Bonds for the Berbice River Bridge. We repeat there was no trade off or insider dealings in this matter as suggested by ‘So-Called Concerned Persons’.


The Bank of Guyana conducted three (3) inspections of the Society’s records, two of which were done in the last three years. Accountability of the Society is under the purview of the Minister of Finance who has power to examine or cause to be examined the books of accounts of the Society. The Bank of Guyana or any other agency may be utilized for this purpose. We reiterate that we are guided by our own set of rules and the law under which we are governed.


The Society received a nomination for an Auditing firm to be appointed Auditors for the year 2009 in accordance with the Rules of the Society. As required by the rules, the NBS informed the current Auditors by way of letter and informed its members by an advertisement in daily newspapers. We subsequently received notification from our current Auditors of their desire not to seek re-election at the Society’s AGM on April 25, 2009.
The Board of Directors in accordance with the Society’s Rules does not appoint Auditors, so it cannot be accused of removing the Auditors. In fact, the Board over the years has enjoyed cordial relations with Messrs. Jack A. Alli, Sons & Company. The Board and the Management of the Society categorically deny that they had anything to do with the process of elections of the Society’s Auditors. This is within the purview of the members.


It is a fact that NBS purchased $1.5B in Bonds in the Berbice River Bridge from CLICO. The Bonds were purchased at face value. The Society wishes to make it pellucidly clear that the investment is in the Berbice River Bridge and not with CLICO and the bridge is fully insured. The acquisition of the Bonds we emphasize is in the interest of our members and the Society as a whole.Our Bridge Investment is a merely 5.0% of Total Assets. Of the other 95.0%, 54.0% or $19.0B is invested in mortgage loans, amounting to 7,819 in number. This translates into an average mortgage loan of $2.4M. Our maximum exposure in any one security until recently was $8.0M. The investment therefore in the bridge is sound, justified and is the most lucrative investment opportunity currently available to NBS. Thus, the directors are satisfied that they have met their fiduciary obligations to the institution.


The Society recorded a profit of $288M for the year 2008. Had it not been for an exchange loss of $200M as a result of the depreciation of the pound sterling due to the Global Economic Meltdown, the total profit for the year 2008 would have been $488M. The investment in the UK is guaranteed by the Government of the United Kingdom.Of interest to members it should be noted that the investment in Britain has been there for decades inclusive of the period when a self styled ‘Concerned Member’ was a Member of the Society’s Board of Directors. The Society’s profits over the years had the benefit of significant increase in the value of the pounds sterling. Therefore the $200M losses for this year will have to be measured against those massive gains in previous years.


The Society has always been and continues to be very sound financially. It surpassed all of its key financial indicators, strategic goals and operational targets in achieving record earnings despite many challenges during the year.We wish to remind our members of the 2007 sinister plots which were designed to undermine the Society by the same ‘So-Called Concerned Members’ who predicted the downfall of the Society. However, the Board of Directors wishes to assure all members that the Society continues to be strong and will continue to be sound well into the future.We regret that the media houses which continue to publish these inaccurate and misleading statements continue to do so without seeking our view on these matters. We hope that sacred tenets which form the basis of good journalism will be adhered to in the future. We equally hope that these facts will be published fully in the interest of fairness to the Society and balanced reporting.

On behalf of theBoard of Directors

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