Credit Unions Vital To Barbados??? Economy

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Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, Sen. Jepter Ince, presents Keith Jones of BARTEL Cooperative Credit Union Ltd. with his certificate in Credit Union Management at last Saturday’s graduation of the Barbados Cooperative and Credit Union League Ltd. at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
(C. Pitt/BGIS)
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Government remains committed to ensuring that credit unions maintain their financial viability in this 21st century and beyond.

This was asserted by Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, Senator Jepter Ince, as he addressed the graduation ceremony of the Barbados Cooperative and Credit Union League Ltd., last Saturday at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

He told graduands: "This administration encourages the diversity of the credit union product and we will create the enabling environment for it to be successful. But for us to be successful as a team, a determination will have to be made as to whether we are happy with the current system, or is there a need for further changes in the operating structures."

He pointed out that regulatory intervention alone would not, in itself, be sufficient to ensure the sector’s long term sustainability and development. Rather, Senator Ince suggested it would call for partnerships, as well as an appreciation of the risk involved in servicing new markets.

"Risk is inherent in any business and it varies over time. Sometimes things suddenly seem to change direction. Every business encounters periods of accelerated change when old assumptions suddenly become irrelevant as experience in the collapse of the global financial markets," he added.

Reflecting on the importance of credit unions to the Barbadian financial system, the Parliamentary Secretary stated that in 2006 they were 37 such entities with 145,000 members depositing BDS$308 million. This, he said, was an indication of the high level of confidence placed in the sector by individuals, families and businesses.

"Five years later, according to the 2011 Annual Report, there are 33 active primary societies, commanding membership of approximately 152,245 persons across Barbados, with savings of over BDS$1 billion supported by assets and loans of BDS$2.5 billion.

"Credit unions represent about a third of the national economy, offering a range of financial services, thereby creating an environment of healthy competition for commercial banks. There is, of course, a legal framework governing the operation of credit unions which includes the Cooperative Societies Act 1990 and the Cooperative Societies Regulations (1993)," he noted.

Senator Ince commended the Barbados Cooperative and Credit Union League Ltd. for contributing significantly to the social, financial and economic development of Barbados over the years and for the way it had managed its assets efficiently and effectively to the benefit of its members.

He also singled out its achievement in establishing a framework for credit union supervisors to come together to discuss common issues in an effort to enhance growth.

Over 60 persons were awarded certificates for completing online courses and workshops in Credit Union Management, Institutional Strengthening, Board and Volunteers and Finance and Accounting.

cathy.lashley@barbados.gov.bb

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