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The Co-operative Sector to employ start-of-the-art Technology

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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 2004.

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