Credit Unions Must Be Repositioned

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Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Christopher Sinckler. (FP)

Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Christopher Sinckler. (FP)

This island’s Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler, believes that as the credit union movement grows, it must be repositioned to undertake even higher levels of activity in the economy.

Mr. Sinckler expressed this view over the weekend while delivering the feature address at the 50th Anniversary Dinner and Awards Ceremony of the BET Co-operative Credit Union Limited, at Hilton Barbados Resort.

He told his audience: “If the movement is to continue to grow in such ways, then it must as a matter of urgency look towards transformative interventions that would allow it not only to grow its membership and asset base, but also to grow its contribution and influence within the context of the Barbadian economy and society.”

The Minister said many would suggest that the Barbadian society had reached a plateau from which it would not recover. “I do not share this view; however, I believe that the Barbadian society is repositioning itself for a new platform on which we will launch a higher level of existence, with better quality lives and higher standards of living,” he opined.

He noted that when Government imposed an asset based tax on the credit union some time ago, the movement showed a high level of maturity in executing that part of Government’s policy, thus contributing to the Fiscal Consolidation Programme.

Mr. Sinckler said Government saw the credit union movement as an integral part, not only of the growing financial services sector in Barbados, but of Barbadian life. According to him, it has been beneficial to the country’s development and made an indelible mark on the society.

“It is therefore only befitting at this important juncture of your history that we take pause and take stock of where you have come from; the sterling contribution that you and the movement in general have made; and where you and your movement will be heading in the future,” he stated.

The Minister reminded his audience that on April 6, 1965, 10 young enterprising employees at the Cable and Wireless went forward and signed the application for the formation of a Savings Society, which later transitioned to full credit union status.

He pointed out that the BET Credit Union was the ninth oldest credit union on the island and the eighth largest. It has over 700 members and a share capital of BDS$36.9 million in assets.

According to him, there are 35 credit unions with over 170,000 members. “In fact, the penetration rate of credit union membership in Barbados is among the highest in the world…. The movement has an asset base that exceeds BDS$1.7 billion, representing a phenomenal growth rate by any stretch of the imagination….

“Indeed, the BDS$1.7 billion represents approximately 20 per cent of Barbados’ GDP, and is reflective of the growing importance and influence of the sector. Throughout the years, the growth in assets has fueled the movement’s loan growth which is trending towards $1.3 billion,” he indicated.

Mr. Sinckler said data showed that credit unions’ loans, as a percentage of commercial banks’ loans, expanded from less than one per cent in 1980 to currently in excess of 35 per cent.

During the night, founding members R. Darlington Marshall, Colbourne Walters, Trevor Alleyne, Victor Reid, Courtney Bramao and L. Jeane Alleyne were recognised.

The award for Outstanding Service on the Supervisory Committee for 10 years or over went to Felton Burton and Judith Haynes. Michael Alleyne, Vere Walcott and Pedro Clarke each received an award for Outstanding Service as an elected officer of the Board of Directors for 20 years or over.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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