Some BLA members question ‘new rules’
August 13, 2013

Some BLA members question ‘new rules’

With the deadline looming for submission of nominations for candidates to sit on the Board of Directors of the St Vincent Building and Loan Association (SVBLA),{{more}} some members of the building society have taken issue with new eligibility requirements stipulated by the regulators.

Nominations to sit on the Board of the SVBLA must be submitted by tomorrow, but new eligibility requirements stated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in a booklet outlining the election process, have been described as favouring people with academic qualifications.

According to the booklet, to be nominated as a candidate for the Board, one must have been a member of the SVBLA for a minimum of two years (since August 2011); must own Permanent Shares or Ordinary Shares with no arrears payments of more than two months; if a borrower of the SVBLA (any type of loans), his/her loan/s must be current (no arrears); must provide his/her written consent to be nominated as a member of the Board of Directors of the SVBLA; candidates must be Vincentian nationals effectively residing in SVG; must be a graduated or licensed professional in areas relevant to Finance and/or Management, including Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Attorney, Financial Expert, Chartered Surveyor, Real Estate Agent, or similar; be a businessman (owner or management capacity); or be an Academic at College, with relevant expertise relating to business, banking, accounting, finance or similar.

At a meeting on August 8 at Frenches House, Jerry George, a member of the committee which was elected to represent the interest of shareholders of the SVBLA, said the new criteria were “very much biased” in favour of people with academic qualifications.

According to the booklet, all nominated candidates must submit a Curriculum Vitae (CV) to the Nominations Committee no later than August 14.

That CV should include: personal data; working experience; disclosure of any relationship with a St Vincent and the Grenadines financial institution; a statement confirming that: he/she has no criminal record related to any offences, with the exception of minor traffic violations; he/she is in good standing with his/her obligations with the Inland Revenue and the NIS; he/she does not hold any position of influence in any other financial institution in the country, such as manager, director, legal counsel, advisor, or similar; he/she has never been bankrupt.

Some persons attending last Thursday’s meeting were of the view that the requirements to be on the Board of Directors were too stringent and needed to be broadened to include a wider cross section of society.

One woman in attendance was of the view that “ordinary people” should be allowed to sit on the Board of Directors.

“Even with their big set of qualifications, it didn’t work. We need to balance it,” the woman said, referring to the most recent Board of Directors, which was disbanded by the FSA on February 1.

Another person, among the approximate 40 persons in attendance, said the FSA needs to specify whether they are amending the original rules which governed eligibility to sit on the Board of Directors.

However, George said that he is not aware that the original rules of the building society had been repealed or amended. He said while there were issues relating to the original rules, the FSA needed to establish clearly whether or not they had suspended the rules of the SVBLA.

Member of the SVBLA John Horne said there is nothing wrong with setting eligibility requirements, as he sees them as a guide. Those stipulated by the FSA, however, were far too narrow, he said.

Horne said there could be persons in the community who have established themselves through a track record who should be eligible to sit on the Board of Directors.

“All the persons on the board have degrees, did this solve problem? No, … We need another voice,” the member added.

The question was also raised in relation to the FSA’s authority to institute new rules.

Concerns were also raised about eligibility to be able to nominate persons to sit of the board and for voting.

The FSA booklet says, “Members nominating and/or voting in the Board of Directors election must have been a member of the SVBLA for at least two years. Members nominating other members must do so in writing in a specific form to be provided for such a purpose, and register such nomination with the Nominations Committee.”

However, members of the committee pointed out that the original rules of the SVBLA state that one has to be a member of the organisation for six months to be able to nominate or vote.

The nomination period for the upcoming elections began on August 5 and closes tomorrow, August 14. Elections will take place on August 29 and election results/announcements will be made on the same date or August 30, as soon as possible.

The FSA, last week indicated that they are ready to relinquish full control of the BLA back to its members since taking over the institution on February 1, 2013.

Other members of the shareholders committee at the meeting included: Cools Vanloo, Sylvia Sutherland, Sunil Fraser and Jeannie Ollivierre.