By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE financial co-operative sector has savings of $260 million, and assets in excess of $325 million, the director of co-operatives development said yesterday.
There are seven credit unions in the Bahamas, four of which are open to the general public, and Nathaniel Adderley. said: “The department has direct responsibility for the enforcement of the Co-operatives Societies Act which mandated the department to develop the register, and supervise all co-operative societies.
“We currently regulate seven financial cooperatives, that’s the credit unions, and six producer and service cooperatives, plus nine school co-operatives. The savings in the sector is about $260 million, with total assets of about $325 million and the membership is in excess of 41,000.
“The credit unions, in particular, provide full-time employment for over 144 people. I believe that this is an indication of the cooperative sector’s micro-economic potential for job creation, income generation, mobilsation of domestic savings and the empowerment of ordinary citizens through the benefits of membership.”
Mr Adderley added: “I believe that this is an indication of the cooperative sector’s micro-economic potential for job creation, income generation, mobilisation of domestic savings and the empowerment of ordinary citizens through the benefits of membership.
“In 2011, the Government made a key decision to transfer the regulation and the supervision of the credit unions under the remit of the Central Bank of the Bahamas. This has caused us to stop and look at how we had to re-focus and restructure the department itself to be more responsive to the needs of the other part of the sector, the producer and service cooperatives.”
Legislation which will place credit unions under the regulatory ambit of the Central Bank has been drafted. The Bahamas Co-operative Credit Unions Bill and supporting regulations, amendments to the Co-operative Societies Act and amendments to the Central Bank of the Bahamas Act, have been drafted.
The draft legislation is also proposing a ‘light touch’ regulatory regime for credit unions with assets under $1 million, allowing for more “relaxed reporting requirements” for such credit unions.
“We have applied this lighter touch regime to give the smaller credit unions an opportunity to grow and develop before they become subject to more rigorous requirements. The more rigorous requirements apply to credit unions which have assets of $1 million or more,” said Rochelle Deleveaux, legal counsel at the Central Bank.