The Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) has recorded a dip in its after-tax profits which, by the end of the year 2017, was $1.520 billion compared to the $2.043 billion in 2016.This is according to the bank’s financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2017, which was published in Guyana Times on Friday; the profit before taxation was $1.881 billion against $2.518 billion. The financial records reflect a 25.5 per cent drop in the taxed profits. It was recorded that the Interest Income last year went down to $5.044 billion against $5.994 billion the previous year; while Interest Expense was $789 million compared to $912 million in 2016. Meanwhile, the Net Interest Income also saw a decline in 2017 with $4.254 billion against $5.082 billion recorded in the previous year.On the other hand, GBTI registered a significant increase in Other Income last year, with $1.626 billion against $1.133 billion in 2016.Furthermore, it was outlined that Operating Expenses also went up to $3.412 billion in 2017 compared to $2.798 billion in the 2016 financial year. Meanwhile, provisioning for bad loans last year was pegged at $587 million against $899 million in 2016.Additionally, the bank’s earnings per share last year declined to 38.02 per cent against 51.09 per cent in 2016. The financial statements further outlined that loans and advances went down to $44.7 billion last year compared to $45.5 billion in 2016.Furthermore, the total deposits in 2017 were recorded at $81.6 billion, compared to $82.8 billion the previous year. Moreover, GBTI paid a total of $600 million in Dividends last year, which reflects a drop from the $680 million paid the previous year.The bank’s financial records also outlined that loss to an unnamed associate company went up to a whopping $620 million in 2017 from a mere $143 million recorded in 2016.In its Interim Financial Report for the period January to June 2017, it was noted that GBTI’s financial performance was, no doubt, due in part to the fraud perpetrated on the bank earlier in the year by gold dealer Siddiqui Rasul who defrauded the bank of some $941 million.GBTI’s Chairman Robin Stoby in May 2017, had told GBTI shareholders that the bank would recover the $941 million lost in a fraudulent transaction allegedly conducted by Rasul.Stoby had said that while, in the short-term, the bank would have to make provisions for the loss, affecting earnings for the year, the Board’s intention was to make an insurance claim for the money, in addition to conducting civil proceedings in an attempt to recover as much of the funds as possible.Rasul, owner of SSS Minerals Trading, was on April 3, 2017, charged with six counts of fraud, wherein it was alleged that between March 21 and March 22, 2017, at Bartica, with intent to defraud, he obtained from GBTI $96 million, $290 million, $89 million, $45 million, $298 million and $138 million by falsely pretending that he had cash in a Citizens Bank account to honour cheques that he had written. Rasul has denied the charges, and has been placed on a total of $3 million bail.
Danny Jones says that Loving Arms Shelter helped put him on the right track. (Photos credit: Facebook/Danny Jones)Danny “Virgo” Jones lived homeless in Baltimore for nine years. Ever since he was eight years old, his family has been homeless. At 15, he struck out on his own and found a home at Loving Arms.“I had nowhere to go,” Jones, now 20, to the AFRO. “My mom was dealing with some stuff with herself and it was hard for her to keep her own space so we would always be in and out of different spaces.“I got to Loving Arms and they took care of me. At first I was a little uncomfortable around a bunch of strangers, but somehow they pulled it off to make me feel so comfortable. Everybody was warm. I had structure,” said Jones.Loving Arms is a basic care, emergency shelter located in Windsor Hills for unaccompanied homeless, throwaway, and runaway youth. It was founded by Cindy Williams in 2009 and is the only federally-funded shelter in the state of Maryland that exclusively houses young people under 18 who are homeless.The shelter offers crisis intervention, life skills education, community services and prevention education for youth and adults, and individual and family counseling. Williams says the preferred outcome is family reunification, but the crippling effects of poverty on families and faulty public systems still at work, Williams contends, the portal of homelessness will continue to widen in Baltimore City.“The foster care system is clogged and has lost its focus,” Williams told the AFRO. In cases like Jones’ there are no public support services set up for families who just don’t have the means to support their children–or themselves. Williams has seen plenty of cases where the parent or caregiver is also homeless and the children are turned away from the Department of Social Services. The foster care system is not equipped to handle situations like this, she said, which have unfortunately become all too common place. “These young people have basically been thrown away,” said Williams. “If we don’t get a grip when it comes to supporting parents and strengthening families, we are not going to end homelessness in this city.”Loving Arms is also a place of refuge for youth who become homeless after aging out of or running away from the foster care system–those youth who become homeless when their juvenile status expires and the subsidy checks stop.“These people are paid to take care of these kids. Their job is to prepare them for independence, [and] help them transition into something stable–not warehouse them until their 18th birthday,” said Williams. Loving Arms is funded to house young people for up to 21 days. But for the most part, young people can stay as long as it takes for the staff there to pool together resources to transition residents into a viable, permanent living situations. For Jones, it took a little over three months. Today, the self-proclaimed musical genius is renting a room, attending Baltimore City Community College, works as a party promoter and is thriving on his own. “After 21 days I ain’t know what to say to [ Mrs. Williams],” said Jones. “She knew I still had nowhere to go, and she let me stay. She figured some things out for me and every since then I’ve been fine. I’ve been better than I’ve ever been in my life.”Jones is headed to Morgan State University to live on campus next fall. He’s not sure whether he’ll major in psychology or business management, but he knows he’s going to be an entrepreneur. “I’m still dealing with myself, trying to gain confidence to a level where I can really go out in the world and be myself–not ashamed of where I came from,” he said. Williams says she will continue to fight the good fight if it means more success stories like Jones’ but is tired of butting heads with a broken system. In 2015, Williams acquired two additional properties to extend Loving Arms’ reach throughout the Baltimore. One shelter is not enough. “Our kids deserve stability and permanency in their lives,” said Williams,” they need to be loved on–hard.”