Instruments now in place to safeguard Credit Unions Print E-mail
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Thursday, 31 May 2018 00:00

Over the next few weeks Credit Unions across the Country will be holding their Annual General Meetings. As a result members are now being encouraged by the Belize Credit Union League to come out to these AGMs’ to get a chance to participate in the democratic process, in electing their governing bodies.

In the Cayo District, one such Credit Union, the St. Martin’s Credit Union held its 69th Annual General Meeting at the Sacred Heart Junior College Auditorium in San Ignacio Town on Friday.

At this meeting there were three vacancies, two for the Board of Directors and one for the Supervisory body. Both Elmer Juarez and Carlton McKoy were elected for two years to their role in the Board of Directors. Whilst Ms. Irma Sanchez was re-elected for three years to the Supervisory body.

Received with much welcome by SMCU members was their 4% dividend, which is 1% more than last year. Manager Raymond Tzul told us that such an increase was due to the comparatively low 2.7% delinquency rate as well as maintaining the cost of expenses that the Credit Union in San Ignacio makes.

An  announcement was also made by Dr. John Morris, the President of the Board of Directors at the SMCU, that the total assets of the Credit Union is now over $28,500,000.00 , an increase of over two point seven million dollars from last year’s figure. Such a momentum is being assisted by the waves of additional members, which seems to be a priority from the Board of Directors. For this year, SMCU’s membership stands at 9,100, but that figure will shortly be boosted with the addition of 1,500 potential members-- with the inauguration of another branch in Benque on June the 9th.

Among the new developments at the SMCU is that the financial institution has launched its EDU-Save, which is a savings product for children. It has also initiated the Freedom Fund, a retirement product that will hopefully serve for many years. Additionally it now has it’s Shared Agents Network. Some of these packages have been launched in sync with intensive training of staff members, thanks to the Belize Credit Union League and other partners.

Recently there have been the liquidation of various Credit Unions in Belize. Corine Robinson Fuller, the Executive Director of the Belize Credit Union League believes that there are several instruments in place to avoid such further “failures.”

“We have a Supervisory Committee that is supposed to look on the affairs of the Credit Union to make sure that everything is in order, we have the Board of Directors,  who are ultimately responsible for the affairs of the Credit Union, then there is the Credit Committee who looks  after the loans; loans are the largest part of the credit union investment and when that does not go right that is when a credit union fails,” said Fuller, who supervised the elections on Friday.

“Credit Union also fails when the people, who manage the Credit Union,  when they steal the money and that has been the case unfortunately for most of the Credit Unions that have failed.”

Fuller assures that there is now stronger oversight of Credit Unions. According to her, the Credit Union League has also established a stabilization fund where Credit Unions --only some are participating--are putting aside their money every year so that when a Credit Union “falls into problems for any reasons” resources will be available to assist them. Secondly, Credit Unions are now being regulated by the Central Bank of Belize and they have certain benchmarks that Credit Unions should attain.

“Then there is the Credit Union League, together we assess each other, we assess the Credit Union. And the League is made of all the participating Credit Unions, [they] look on how each perform and if there is any area that needs assistance to improve and so on the forum is our Board meetings where those things are addressed,” says Fuller.

At the SMCU AGM on Friday other sister Credit Unions did attend; such as St.Francis Xavier, Holy Redeemer, La Immaculada, St. John’s and the Toledo Teachers Credit Union. It seems that the Credit Union movement is composed up of resolute members determined to bring greater financial power to the masses.