By Ashok Kumar/1 July, 2018
The Gujarati Samaj of NSW is under a thick blanket of financial mess and the Samaj is reportedly devoid of any vision and mission. The documents in possession of The Indian Sub-continent Times (The IST) indicate that the expected level of governance involved in serving the community is far from being achieved.
After several financial members of The Gujarati Samaj of NSW approached The IST, The IST had written emails on June 24, 2018 to the key office bearers of the Samaj, including President Jaydatt Nayak, Vice President Vijay Raj, secretary Jignesh Raj and treasurer Kiran Desai as well as Public Officer Janak Kumar Patel, seeking their clarifications and comments, but The IST has not received any response from either of them till going to press.
The IST visited The Gujarati Samaj of NSW website and took note of the prominent display of the businesses of “Prudential International Education Services” and “Smat Tax Advisors”, which members say belong to the key leaders of The Gujarati Samaj of NSW, with no mention whether they are the sponsors or partners of The Gujarati Samaj of NSW, members also say.
The IST is aware of the posts on Facebook by Amit Vyas and comments made by Vira Trivedi, Prashant Bhalala, Atit Shah and Kaushal Parikh in that post. It appears that Prashant Bhalala is speaking in support of the current committee. He appears to be a front person for the current committee. The committee members, especially Jaydatt Nayak, as the president of The Gujarati Samaj of NSW, should show the leadership and be the one, who should respond to the concerns of the members of The Gujarati Samaj of NSW.
The documents in possession of The IST reveal that the present regime is not transparent in carrying out the Samaj business. The Samaj, when questioned by members, feigned ignorance or used diversionary tactics. Some members of the community have even lodged a complaint with the NSW Fair Trading (The IST has a copy of this complaint) to look into their grievance of non-compliance of the Associations Incorporation Act 2009 by the Gujarati Samaj of NSW committee members.
The key complaints include;
- membership fees going into the private account of an office bearer
- no AGM for more than 3 years
- no submission of financial report to NSW Fair Trading after 2013
- submission of financial report of year 2012 in February 2014
- either not holding AGMs or calling AGM after 6 months from the end of the financial year on 31 December
- not organising the key and signature cultural event of Gurati Samaj of NSW ie Dandiya, but supporting the similar but commercial event by a key committee member
- not showing the register of membership to its own members
- not communicating with the members in regards to activities, committee meetings and AGMs
- turning Gujarati Samaj into a “group” association, where family members are holding key positions. Secretary Jignesh Raj and Vice President Vijay Raj are brothers.
- portraying office bearers as key leaders of Gujarati community, while operating Gujarati Samaj of NSW in breach of Associations Incorporation Act 2009.
- sending the AGM notice ONLY by email, whereby some people, especially senior members, may not get it, because they either do not have functioning email accounts or do not check them frequently.
It is worth noting that every incorporated association (registered with NSW Fair Trading) is required by Associations Incorporation Act 2009 to hold an AGM every year. This AGM must be held within 6 months of the end of its financial year. Gujarati Samaj of NSW’s financial year ends on 31 December. Their next AGM is scheduled on 8 July, which is a breach of the Associations Incorporation Act 2009.
It is also worth noting that Gujarati Samaj’s AGM notice says that the AGM on 8 July 2018 is about 2016/2017. This is vague and opaque, as well as confusing. It should say that it is the AGM of 2017 (Jan-Dec 2017) or 2016 and 2017, because their financial year goes from January 1 to December 31. There is nothing called AGM of 2016/2017. The AGM of 2016/2017 is indicative of sneaky and manipulative behaviour. It talks about presentation of treasurer’s report ending on 31 December 2016/2017. There can not be such terminology in regards to Gujarati Samaj financial year, because their financial year starts on 1 January and ends on 31 December. This so-called AGM notice does not outline which committee members’ positions are going to be decided by election on 8 July, 2018. This AGM notice is faulty, unclear and should be re-issued, members say.
There is a documentary proof that under the current leadership, the Samaj has lost its ACNC (Australian Charity and Not for profit Commission) status since the last four years and none from the Samaj has shown any urgency to get it restored until 29 June, 2018, when members raised issues about it. This is another example that committee members have been focussed on something else, other than looking after the key interests of the Gujarati Samaj of NSW.
There are concerns as to how the refund of the donations/contributions in relations to Gujarati Samaj Community Hall in Grainville was managed by the Gujarati Samaj committee. Apparently, this sum is around $150k, which the Samaj received from the sale of Gujarati Samaj community hall. Members do not seem to have any information about it, and nothing has been disclosed by the current committee. All sorts of speculations are flying, in the absence of clear and transparent communication and lack of financial reports after 2013.
There are speculations and allegations that committee members have used community money to attend events like the Commonwealth Games recently in Gold Coast. Nothing is clear due to absence of financial reports, lack of communication from the committee and a very opaque way to run Gujarati Samaj of NSW.
Some members have demanded that the AGM of 8 July, 2018 should be postponed to allow open and transparent communication to be established before holding the AGM.
It is obvious that the current committee of The Gujarati Samaj of NSW is either unwilling or unable to manage The Gujarati Samaj of NSW efficiently, transparently and within the Associations Incorporation Act 2009. This is a serious matter, for which the Samaj President, being the top leader, must take full and total responsibility. Members also say that it might be better that the current committee resigns from their position in The Gujarati Samaj of NSW and hands over the running of The Gujarati Samaj of NSW to senior and experienced members of The Gujarati Samaj of NSW for a few months. One of these members should be a legally trained person to streamline the governance of the The Gujarati Samaj of NSW. The transitional arrangement shouldn’t be for more than 3 months, before the AGM is held and new committee elected.