It has been around for just as long as Barbados has been independent.
And top officials of the local credit union movement believe it is as deserving as any, of a place in this island’s Social Partnership, which brings together Government, labour and the private sector for the purpose of national decision-making.
Speaking at the BET Credit Union’s 50th anniversary dinner and awards ceremony at the weekend, President Michael Alleyne pointed to the movement’s longevity, as well as its strength in numbers and finances.
“The credit union movement boasts of a membership base of 171,000 members, more than half of our nation’s population, and over $1.8 billion in total assets,” Alleyne reported.
He also said “the movement has played, and continues to play, its role in the socio-economic development of Barbados and has stood the test of time during every economic crisis that has befallen the country.
“We came up with creative ways to support our membership to maintain their quality of life during those challenging times,” Alleyne pointed out.
“It it therefore my view that the movement needs to be more properly invited to the policymaking and decision processes that guide the direction of our beloved country. It should not be remembered, or called upon for restorative medicine when the patient is on its back. But at the time when the analysis of the sick is done.
“I’m therefore saying that the credit union movement needs to be fully representative at the level of the Social Partnership,” he said in comments directed at Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, who was in the audience at the time.
Alleyne stressed that the movement did not want observer or any other form of secondary status in the Social Partnership where stakeholders come together to discuss and chart the nation’s future.
“It [credit union movement] should not be subsumed into any grouping, but to have its own place at the head table.”
When it was his time at the podium, Sinckler indicated in his feature address that he supported an elevated status for credit unions.
“As the movement grows, as the assets expand, influence spreads, and as its contribution to development deepens, the movement has to be re-positioned to undertake even higher levels of activity and action, within the context of the Barbados economy and society,” he said.
However, the Minister of Finance also cautioned that “if the movement is to continue to grow in such ways, then it must, as a matter of urgency, look towards transformative interventions that allow it not only to grow its membership base, and its asset base, but also to grow its contribution and influence within the context of the Barbadian economy, and society”.