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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Credit Union Bill anticipated to be passed this year

The Credit Union Association (CUA) is confident parliament will pass the Credit Union Bill this year, to provide an enabling environment for members to operate and sustain their activities.

Low interest rates on loans and drive for the culture of savings are factors that place co-operative credit unions in better position to compete with other financial institutions.

But the unions feel threatened by activities of other microfinance companies in competition for clients, due to the absence of a legal framework to regulate credit unions.

Anthony Augustine Aidoo, immediate past Chairman of CUA in Ashanti region, says the passage of the Bill is critical to consolidate credit unionism as a viable financial instrument to alleviate poverty.

“If the Bill comes, then Credit Unions will become autonomous and their activities will be regulated so that they don’t falter and fall by the wayside”, he stated.

Co-operative Credit Unions in Ghana are to operate under a separate regime in the Bank of Ghana’s ongoing reform of the microfinance industry.

Under the Non-bank Financial Institutions Act 2008, Credit Unions are placed under the second tier of the new regulated microfinance regime, together with Susu Companies taking deposits and making profits.

But Credit Unions are yet to be roped in the regulated activities.

The Bank of Ghana has stated that regulation of the unions would commerce as soon as parliament passes the legislative instrument for the sector.

Meanwhile, public interest continues to grow in the microfinance concept of credit unions.

Easy Investment Co-operative Credit Union, at its 2nd Annual General Meeting in Kumasi, posted an impressive financial performance for 2012.

The Union recorded 358 percent increase in net profit, with total income of Gh₵184,282.98 within the period.

Total assets, reserves, members’ savings and share capital as well as loan portfolio increased from between 200 to 674 percent in the financial year, whilst membership recorded 79 percent increment.

Managing Director, Samuel Addo Otoo attributes the performance to transparency in transactions, flexibility in accessing credit and payment of good dividend on shares.

“Some members bought shares and invested in other institutions but compared with the dividend that we’ve paid so far, I think members are very happy with it; our shares position increased by more than 200 percent and we want to continue strengthening the confidence that members have with us”, he stated.

Easy Investment Credit Union is in the process of signing a partnership agreement with telecom giant, MTN Ghana, to introduce mobile banking for members to easily contribute to their savings account.

Mr. Adoo Otoo added that an insurance scheme has been arranged to support members plan for their pension.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

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