Prime Minister, David Thompson

In the midst of the global economic turmoil, the credit union movement has been told to consolidate its position in order to lift the island out of the negative fallout precipitated by the credit crunch in some overseas markets.

Prime Minister, David Thompson, warned Barbadians to brace themselves for uncertain economic times due to the island’s close ties with the United States dollar which would result in a decline of the purchasing power of the Barbadian dollar, a dip in tourist arrivals from the United States and the United Kingdom markets, and a reduction in remittances.

He made these observations while addressing the City of Bridgetown (COB) Co-operative Credit Union Limited’s 25th Anniversary dinner and awards ceremony.  The event took place at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre last Saturday. 

Noting that credit unions must consolidate their position to dominate the local market and penetrate regional and global markets, Mr. Thompson acknowledged that considerable work must be done to prepare credit unions for the task ahead. This includes the need for modernising the legislation to better protect shareholders’ interests; improving corporate governance; strengthening the supervision and regulation of the sector to stave off dangers like money laundering and embezzlement and improving service.

The Prime Minister also pledged continued support to credit unions which he described “as the last bastion of indigenous locally-owned financial institutions.

“I say so not from a narrow nationalistic perspective, but because of their unique relationship with their members.  Since they are owned by, and are accountable to their members, they are best suited to respond to the changing needs of ordinary Barbadians living in ordinary neighbourhoods,” he said.

Impressed with the growth of the movement, Mr. Thompson revealed that the island’s 37 credit unions have total assets of over Bds $1 billion and a membership base of more than Bds $147,000. “Credit Unions, therefore, have the capacity to reach and affect more Barbadians than most organisations including the church and other faith-based organisations,” he declared.

COB President, Lynnette Holder, lauded the organisation for its achievements during the last 25 years and pointed to assets of over $275 million from its 40,000 members as proof of its financial stability.

“For the next 25 years, our vision is to become the premier financial institution for our members; to deliver the most comprehensive financial products of the highest quality; to influence the personal development and commitment of all our employees; to engage in sound financial practices, but ultimately, our membership will always remain our primary focus,” she said. 

During the ceremony, some COB staffers, and founding members were presented with awards for their outstanding contribution to the institution. Among the awardees were COB’s Member Relations Executive, Winston Alleyne, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Senator Maxine McClean, and Glyne Pilgrim. They each received the Spirit of Bridgetown Award for their 10 to 14 years service to the company.

The top Spirit of COB Award was presented to Member Care Manager, Barbara Langdon-Thompson; Accounts Manager, Judie Gill, and Loans Manager, Algernon Yearwood, for 20 or more years of service to the organisation.

The COB also honoured President Lynnette Holder; General Manager, Steve Belle and former General Manager, Hugh McClean, for building on the foundation left by the credit union’s founders. 

Executive Members Drayton Carter, Adrian Griffith and government backbencher James Paul also received awards for their 14 to 20 years’ service to COB. 

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