Credit Unions Key To Fighting The Economic Crisis

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A government official has reiterated the need for local credit unions to implement strong internal controls, to minimise any occurrence of financial demise or financial deregulation within the system.

Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Division of Trade, Industry and Commerce, Ernesta Drakes, made this assertion last weekend, while addressing the Barbados Cooperative Credit Union League’s Cocktail Reception at the Crane Resort and Residences, Crane, St. Philip.?? The event was held in recognition of International Credit Union Day.

Speaking on behalf of Minister of Economic Affairs, Dr. David Estwick, she acknowledged that such a framework was necessary to ensure "the transparency, integrity and survival of our financial sector and will also be instrumental in supervising and regulating our non-banking financial institutions".

To this end, Ms. Drakes alluded to government’s proposed establishment of a Financial Services Commission. "While it can be said that Barbados has a well managed financial system, this revised regulatory system will allow for greater protection of members’ deposits, as well as improving the confidence which the public and small investors have in the credit union movement.?? So, it is also expected that as the need arises, the regulatory body will address matters pertaining to non-traditional and trading investment," she said.

Citing recently published statistics for December 2008 on the local credit union movement’s assets, the Deputy Permanent Secretary revealed that for that period, the total assets stood at $1.2 billion as compared with $1.1 billion for the corresponding period.?? Savings accounted for $978.8 million, while its loan portfolio increased by 11.4 per cent and now stood at $964.5 million.

Ms. Drakes said there were now 150,000 credit union members and the movement’s continued success was indicative of "what can be achieved when a social conscience exists within a financial institution which is complemented by the presence of an appropriate governance framework".

jwilson@barbados.gov.bb

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