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$8 billion capital base in T&T’s credit unions

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Credit unions continue to play an important role in the economy of T&T, Brian Moore, president of the Co-operative Credit Union League said yesterday. “At this juncture the credit union movement in T&T is growing stronger. We have provided an alternative model for people to achieve their economic and social goals. The traditional financial institutions are turning away ordinary people more and more.

The ordinary person will now have to depend on his or her own devices and their own institutions to survive,” he said in an interview with the T&T Guardian on the occasion of International Credit Union Day which has been celebrated the third Thursday of every October since 1948. The theme this year is Credit Unions Unite For Good: A Better Way.

Moore said the capital base of the local credit union movement is around $8 billion which enables the more than half million members of the movement to chart their own financial destinies.

“People are now creating their own employment and the institutions that will facilitate that are the financial institutions that they own and control, which is the credit union. The theme this year is to ensure that we preserve this co-operative model,” he said. 

Commenting on one of the major issues affecting the sector, Moore said it appeared that talks with the Central Bank over t proposed legislation  for the co-operative movement had stalled. “It seems that the Government has bigger fish to fry so we are not hearing from them at all. We are also trying to keep communications open with the Commissioner of Co-operatives at the Ministry of Labour and Co-operatives,” he said.

Moore said the Government is proposing that two pieces of legislation govern the movement—the existing Co-operatives Society Act and the Credit Union Bill. “You know what happens when you serve two masters? It is a recipe for confusion.

The Government’s own International Labour Organization (ILO) consultants told them that is bad business,” he said. Moore wanred that some of the provisions in the Bill will cause “distress” to credit unions. 

He explained: “They introduced term limits for credit union directors, which will create havoc. I do not know that they can tell the banks that their directors can only serve two terms. Why then are they telling credit unions that?” Moore said credit unions need to continue to provide a range of services to customers.

“Now the Government only wants credit unions to take money and give loans. At the moment credit unions provide services from day care to everything. As long as we in the movement do it in a responsible manner, they should not want to stop that,” he said. A statement from the World Council For Credit Unions, said credit unions must stay true to their roots in the contemporary financial environment. 

“Co-operation within the financial co-operative industry has historically been considered a philosophical principle, but today there is a market-driven business rationale for finding co-operative solutions to consumer demand.

It is fitting that we celebrate this year’s International Credit Union Day with this recognition—that credit unions uniting for the good of our consumers truly is a better way of doing business,” the organisation said.