By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Bahamas Co-operative League (BCLL) executives yesterday said the sector will not be negatively impacted by enhanced regulatory scrutiny, noting that the shift in oversight to the Central Bank has been in the making for many years.
BCLL executives were responding to charges by Trade Union Congress (TUC) president, Obie Ferguson, that the Bahamas Co-operative and Credit Union Bill was too complicated, and its language “not worker friendly”.
Sonia Cox-Hamilton, BCLL president, stressed that credit unions are financial institutions and not unions, although they were born from the trade union movement.
“The Bill that was put forth was reviewed by members of each credit union,” she explained. “Every credit union sent a representative to sit on the legal framework committee.
“That committee has been meeting for three years in consultation with the Department of Cooperatives and the Central Bank. The existing Bill has mirrored the majority of items that have existed in the 2005 Act. There has not been any major changes with the exception of a few extra points being added for the betterment of credit unions in the Bahamas, especially deposit insurance coverage.
“We presently have as a benefit loans and savings protection for all of our members that come under the Bahamas Co-operative League.”
Mrs Cox-Hamilton added: “It should be of note that each credit union is mandated by law to have an annual general meeting, at which time the membership may come and bring any concerns they may have to an AGM, and the membership elects a Board of Directors which is responsible for interpreting and carrying out any legal or statutory items that may affect the credit unions.
“It is also the duty of the Board of Directors of each credit union to give the membership proper updates in layman’s language of any new items affecting their institution.”
According to Mrs Cox-Hamilton, the Bahamas has eight active credit unions as well as what she described as at least five producer/supplier cooperatives.