Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 22nd 2015 Contents You are saying pressure is being
placed on our Government to push
them in a particular direction?
Yes. And it is pushing them to
shape credit unions in a particular
way to move them away from the
cooperative grounding that credit
unions came from.
That is dangerous as it is going
to eliminate the whole issue of
shareholders (credit union mem-
bers) democracy, because these
shareholders are also owners of the
How long ago, Mr Remy, this
situation has been brewing, since
you said it did not start with the
It has been at least six years we
have been engaged in discussions
with the Government on this mat-
ter which also impacts on the whole
issue of removing the regulatory
control of credit unions from the
Commissioner of Cooperative
Development to the Central Bank.
What is so great about the Cen-
tral Bank in their regulatory work
when they almost caused the coun-
try s whole economic fabric to crash
in the Clico debacle?
Why would it be detrimental to
the movement if the changes were
implemented as proposed in the
Because the Central Bank regu-
lations are strictly for banking insti-
tutions and a credit union is not a
bank; the whole construct of a
credit union is completely different
from that of a bank.
When this first came up did you
all raise any objection at the time?
Yes, we did.
But unfortunately the movement
has been a passive organisation over
the years, but we now believe the
time is ripe to change our opera-
tional mode to be more active agi-
tators for the direction which we
(A mischievous grin) Militant?
You may use that word if you
want to, but I would prefer to say
more active agitators because we
are the owners of this thing and if
somebody comes to change the way
how you control your property, you
as the owner must have a say in
how it should be governed and reg-
We are saying this legislation that
is being pushed down our throat
is not going to be in the best inter-
est of anybody.
(Eyes lit up) Yes. Because it is
going to have a severe impact on
the whole society, especially the
lower end which is where the
majority of citizens reside.
Earlier you said it would also
mean the end of shareholders
democracy, can you explain that?
Sure. What has happened is that
in the movement presently, every
member is an equal shareholder,
they have a right to go the annual
general meeting and demand and
determine the direction the organ-
What is going to happen now is
that the proposed legislation will
restrict the pool of talent now avail-
able to each entity to serve on
boards and ordinary members
would not be allowed to serve on
Because the legislation is impos-
ing stringent academic require-
ber of a committee...
Yes. (Grave expression)
So you are telling me that soon
a person would need to have CXC,
CAPE and university papers to sit
on those boards and committees?
Yes, and more than that, much
higher and that is the concern we
The average ordinary citizen who
as a shareholder is entitled to be
at the helm of their credit union.
Another problem we have is the
requirement that we have to report
to the Central Bank which is going
to place administrative burdens on
What s the estimated total num-
ber of credit union members in
Approximately 500,000, and the
asset base in the movement is also
approximately just under $12 billion,
which is also a significant contrib-
utor to Trinidad and Tobago s gross
domestic product and a major con-
tributor to our domestic stability.
Mr Remy, that membership fig-
ure speaks volumes about the per-
formance of credit unions. How
is the movement able to attract
such a high membership?
Mr Raphael, that connection to
the committees with ordinary
members is what gives the credit
union strength and allows it to serve
its membership with a high level
of pride in what we are doing.
But you know the major concern
we have is what is driving this Gov-
ernment to rush this thing when
it has the very serious potential for
a negative impact on society.
All we are saying is pull back.
Look at what happened with the
procurement legislation when there
was widespread consultation with
the stakeholders, and it took some
time for both sides to come
to a somewhat amicable
What are you asking for at this
stage or is too late to reach some
form of mutual understanding and
Okay. We are asking for the same
approach with us.
It is not too late because the pro-
posed legislation is still to be debat-
ed.We are asking the Government
to let us complete our studies which
should be completed around the
end of the second quarter this year.
We would come to you with our
proposals, with our report, so we
can both sit and jointly craft leg-
islation that could work in the best
interest of the movement.
Finally, Mr Remy, if this bill
should become law in its current
form would it spell the end of the
credit union movement?
Yes. As we now know it.
We may still have credit unions
but they would not be grounded
in the community anymore because
they have cleverly left the controls
with the Central Bank but the mat-
ter of registration would still be
with the Commissioner of Coop-
This legislation would force credit
unions to merge then we would not
see the emergence of new credit
unions anymore and that would be
a sad day for this country, and the
result would be disastrous.
February 22, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
From Page A8
League to Govt:
Hold your hand on Credit Union Bill
'Members fear move to destroy the movement'
"What is going to happen now is that the proposed legislation
will restrict the pool of talent now available to each entity to
serve on boards and ordinary members would not be allowed
to serve on committees" ---Joseph Remy
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