NEDCO to pay $7.5 million to 40 VSEP workers

Approximately 40 National Entrepreneurship Development Company Ltd (NEDCO) workers who were offered voluntary separation packages in February were sent home on May 1.

These employees will receive $7.5 million in VSEP payments by the State-owned enterprise at the end of June.

Confirmation came from NEDCO’s chairman Clarry Benn yesterday who stated that the organisation to offer VSEPP to the employees was all part of the company’s restructuring and re-branding exercise emanated from recommendations of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) who conducted a comprehensive financial and operational assessment of NEDCO immediately following the appointment of the new board in December 2015.

Benn said in the PWC’s report, it was outlined that NEDCO could not continue with its old model.

“We would have preferred if we did not have to downsize our staff. But the reality is, that if we had not done that, I don’t think the organisation would not have been able to survive much longer.”

In addition to the 40 workers who accepted VSEP, Benn admitted that the contracts of some employees were not renewed, but could not give a figure.

“Contract employees accounted for a few. The figure is small.”

Recently, NEDCO advertised in the print media 20 new positions which needed to be filled to take NEDCO forward.

One or two of the vacancies came about as a result of people who had retired and left.

Benn said NEDCO workforce will be reduced from 105 to 70 once all the positions are filled.

He said, “We are doing a number of things. We had 11 branches throughout Trinidad and Tobago that would be reduced to five. We are downsizing.”

Benn admitted that NEDCO’s balance sheet was being looked at as they move to recover $80 million in loans granted to clients over the years which was still outstanding.

Though NEDCO has retained the service of a debt collecting agency to recover the funds, Benn said, “Much of this is unrealisable” as many of customers have died, disappeared and could not be found.

He could not say how many of its customers had not serviced their loans, stating that they were still examining it balance sheets.

“We are going after the debt. We are collecting. We inherited this problem. Many persons lined up to collect cheques. But it would appear that NEDCO did not indicate to their borrowers that they had to repay the loans taken. There was no repayment obligations by clients. They did not consider it to be a loan. They considered it to be grant, which put us in a financial predicament.”

Benn said such customers will not get off the hook, since there was documentation to show that they had taken a loan with them.

Asked if NEDCO was a feeding frenzy, Benn such a term had political implications, refusing to comment.

On a monthly basis, NEDCO collects $1 million from customers who are now paying up.

NEDCO had approximately 4,000 active customers. Two thousand are of them are new clients.

In the 2017-2018 budget, NEDCO was allocated $20 million.

Source: (Shaliza Hassanali)