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WOCCU lends a hand in Caribbean co-ops bill passage
ST. VINCENT and THE GRENADINES (6/5/08)--World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) Chairman Melvin Edwards last week joined credit union officials in the Caribbean nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to lobby for legislation that would appropriately regulate credit unions.
Melvin Edwards, World Council of Credit Unions chairman, recently lobbied in favor of new legislation with the help of several local credit unions officials to help Caribbean credit unions. From left are: Julian Jack, president of the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions; Edwards; St. Vincent and the Grenadines Gov. General Monica Dacon; and St. Vincent Co-operative Credit Union League President Sylvia Sutherland. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
The bill, the Harmonized Cooperative Societies Bill, “will enable credit unions to grow through a more competitive framework based on more clearly defined compliance requirements that preserve credit unions’ distinctive cooperative features,” Edwards said. Edwards, who represents the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions (CCCU) on WOCCU’s board, along with CCCU President Julian Jack, and St. Vincent League President Sylvia Sutherland, paid courtesy calls to Gov. General Monica Dacon, Prime Minister Sir Louis Straker and the Honorable Michael Browne, whose oversight includes cooperatives. Government officials were impressed with the influence of credit unions, which serve 85% of the country’s workforce, Edwards said. “Rest assured of the government’s full cooperation in building the credit union movement,” Browne added. “We will continue to build and defend the cooperative philosophy.” The St. Vincent League, which has nine credit unions serving 47,000 members, supports the proposed legislation. The revised law will allow the Department of Cooperatives to regulate at the national level and oversee the entire cooperative sectors. The bill evolved from earlier versions passed into law across Caribbean countries between 1995 and 2001. WOCCU’s Model Law for Credit Unions and its PEARLS Monitoring System, a financial and business planning software, influenced the version of the bill currently before the St. Vincent government. The new version was adjusted in response to a review by East Caribbean Central Bank and several regulators. Legislation to strengthen regulatory oversight of financial cooperatives in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has stalled in the country’s legislature, partly due to for-profit sector efforts to reclassify cooperatives under bank regulatory oversight.
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