Thursday, April 28, 2005 - With combined assets of over EC$200 million
and given its vital role and impact on the lives of ordinary St. Lucians, the
co-operative sector has been encouraged to continue repositioning itself to
facilitate the appropriate strategic reintegration of the rural sector into the
broader global movement.
That’s the position being articulated by Minister for Labour Relations, the
Public Service and Co-operatives Honourable Velon John. He says the co-operative
sector represents one of the most meaningful mechanisms for the alleviation of
poverty in rural communities. Minister John says for thousands of St. Lucians,
the sector represents a more user friendly aspect of the financial landscape
which provides ready access to favourable credit facilities, while allowing for
direct participation by democratic means in the conduct of its business.
However he says the rapid expansion of the sector has led to it being a victim
of its own success and has created new challenges critical to its
sustainability. “As we see it, the grouping must now be equipped with the
relevant start-of-the-art technology which will endow their administrations with
computerised capability.” ,” says Minister John, who is also the Member of
Parliament for Laborie, home to the island’s second largest credit union
That shift towards modernization he notes, “will facilitate greater collaborate
with the umbrella body - Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions- in operating
within a regulatory and supervisory framework, thus ensuring high industry
compliance.” The local sector he indicates also needs to establish robust
precautionary measures to ensure its safety and soundness.
The Castries based Civil Service Association (CSA) Credit Union leads the way in
terms of assets of over EC$88 million in the last financial year. Among the top
five credit unions in the country are the Laborie Co-operative Credit Union with
an asset base of EC$26 million, the St. Lucia Teacher Credit Union with assets
of EC$20 million, the Royal St. Lucia Police Force Credit Union with assets of
EC$18 million and the Choiseul Co-operative with assets of EC$17 million.
Saint Lucia has 44 co-operative societies with a membership of over 46,000. This
includes sixteen credit unions, five transport co-operatives, thirteen fishermen
co-operatives, and two arts and craft co-operatives.
The sector recorded saving well over EC$171 million in 2004. Other achievements
recorded in the past financial year were the hosting of the second OECS Credit
Union Summit in May and the first Caribbean Union Youth Conference in April