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Caribbean CU growth needs more oversight--WOCCU
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica (10/18/10)--The importance that strong financial performance numbers play in ensuring safety and soundness continues to increase as credit unions grow in size and influence throughout the region was the primary message recently delivered to 43 credit union supervisors from 17 Caribbean island nations gathered in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
The Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions (CCCU) supports prudential and proportional oversight for credit unions, according to CCCU President and World Council of Credit Unions Director Yvonne Ridguard. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
They participated in the Caribbean Credit Union Supervision Workshop, a three-day workshop co-sponsored by World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and the International Monetary Fund's Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Center (CARTAC). Credit unions in the Caribbean, more so than most areas of the world, are being swept up in moves toward increased prudential supervision and government efforts to improve the institutions’ financial health, WOCCU said. Growing liquidity in the region has brought the need for better supervision and stronger regulations to ensure that credit unions are making prudent investments on behalf of their members, who need access to deposit insurance systems comparable to those offered by banks. Credit union assets in eight Caribbean nations currently represent 10% or more of their country's gross domestic product, demonstrating their financial influences on their countries' economic systems. As economies improve, more nations will be joining that group, according to WOCCU Director Yvonne Ridguard, president of the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions (CCCU), a WOCCU member organization. “We support credit unions having prudential and proportional oversight appropriate to their activities,” Ridguard said. “The workshop provided the kind of expert training and understanding of credit union activities that is needed in the region.” Participants received detailed training and examined case studies on asset quality assessments, credit union capital structure, credit union and bank comparisons, and WOCCU's PEARLS monitoring system. Representatives from central banks, financial ministries and cooperative departments in the region, and credit union supervisors from the National Credit Union Administration in the U.S., the Deposit Insurance Corporation of Ontario, Canada, and CCCU participated in the workshop. “This may be one of the most important training sessions that WOCCU and its partners have conducted,” said Dave Grace, WOCCU's vice president of association services and workshop co-facilitator. “Open dialogue helped participants that traditionally only focused on the cooperative nature of credit unions recognize their financial aspects, while many supervisors that formerly only focused on the financial aspects walked away with greater appreciation for the credit union mission. We see it as a watershed moment.” WOCCU, along with the Canadian Cooperative Association, will co-sponsor a similar regional meeting of African credit union regulators and national associations representing 10 nations Dec. 1 through Dec. 3, in Malawi.
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