The Bayelsa government says it remains committed to the regulation of cooperatives societies and the safety of investors’ funds.
The Commissioner for Trade, Industry and Investment, Mr Otokitio Oparminola, who stated this in a statement issued late Wednesday, dissociated the government from an earlier directive given by the Bayelsa Bureau for Cooperative Development (BCD) to cooperative societies dealing in foreign exchange trade.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that “Mr Fredrick Sese, Director, BCD, on May 19 directed cooperative societies engaged in foreign exchange trading to reduce their rate of returns from between 20 and 35 per cent to 15 per cent to ensure operational sustainability .
The disparity of positions between the bureau and the supervising Ministry is coming against the backdrop of the failure of the dominant cooperative in the state, Baraza, to meet its payment obligations to its investors and the trapping of funds running into billions of naira, owned by more than 40,000 investors’’.
Baraza had since March halted the monthly payment of 25 per cent returns to subscribers and announced a three-month suspension of payment of returns to allow it to recover from the crash.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in April cautioned the public to be wary of investment schemes that offer mouth watering returns.
Meanwhile, Dr Miebi Briebina, Chief Executive of Baraza Multi Purpose Society, maintained that the cooperative was neither an investment scheme nor a financial institution that the EFCC warned the investing public about.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment said that the directive on downward review of rates of returns to investors was strange and ill-advised without the requisite statutory regulatory approvals.
According to the statement, directive claiming that Bayelsa State Government has ordered a downward review of interest to be paid on contributions of cooperatives to 15 per cent and fixing six months as period for withdrawal of contributions are unauthorised.
“The Bureau for Cooperative Development is an agency under the supervision of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment, the alleged statement is not known to the ministry.
“The ministry assures cooperatives in Bayelsa and members of the public that the regulation of cooperative activities is of great importance to the Bayelsa State Government, hence the enactment of the Bureau for Cooperatives Law in 2014.
“The essence of the 2014 legislation is to ensure the regulation of cooperative activities in the state.
“Policies that affect cooperative activities will only be made and announced after due consultation and requisite approvals have been obtained.
“Members the public are hereby advised to remain calm and disregard the said statement,” the statement stated. (NAN)
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