Thursday, May 12, 2011

Teachers Union’s Credit Union Holds AGM

NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA (MB)- The Gambia Teachers Union Co-operative Credit Union (GTUCCU), on Saturday, held its 14th Annual General Meeting at the St. Theresa’s Upper Basic School in Kanifing on Kiaraba Avenue.  
The AGM has attracted a good number of teachers from all the six regions in the country.  
This year’s theme was“Credit Unions the Sharpest cutting edge Against Poverty” and the AGM had availed members of the Credit Union, the opportunity to share their views on pertinent issues, and also assessed the performance of the Board and management during the period under review.  

In his statement, Mr. Siaka Bah of the Central Bank, who also represented the Governor Amadou Kolley at the AGM, said the apex bank of The Gambia as the regulatory body has reviewed the micro-finance regulatory guidelines and drafted the micro-finance bill aimed at transforming the sector to not only serve their clients better, but ensure that they are better governed and managed.
He pinpointed that to unleash the full potentials of micro-finance, credit unions need to establish strong bonds with their customers through continuous market research and customer data analysis.
 He said that by doing so doing, the institution would be able to provide products and services that match customers needs and requirement at affordable prices.  
The CBG official posited that credit unions should therefore strive for innovations that target changes in the technology, the type of financial services offered, the strategic behavior of institutions and others that would bring about improved viability.  
   He is of the position that such innovations should have the potential to contribute towards the reduction of the risks of service provision, as well as the per unit transaction costs associated with financial intermediation, to impact positively on the critical mass of small and informal enterprises. 
 We should endeavor to promote the development of viable and effective means of financing agriculture, micro-housing finance and insurance schemes for credit union members.  According to Bah, it is a known fact that limited access to finance, lowers social welfare and hinders poverty reduction efforts and the emergence of an economically active middle class.
He went on to say that, more fundamentally, inadequate financial services constrain economic growth.  
Thus, micro-finance, he said, is widely recognized as one of the fundamental tools in the fight against poverty, as it could empower poor people in improving their livelihood.  The General Manager of NAGCCUG, Mr. Baboucarr Jeng, in his statement, pointed out that the AGM was yet another manifestation of the high level of democracy, prevailing in the credit union movement.  
  According to Jeng, credit Unions are democratic financial cooperation and as such they do not have customers but shareholders like them.  He noted that each Credit Union is operated for and by its members, the people who borrow and save with it.  
He quoted  Alphones Des Jardins, as saying, ‘A Credit Union is not an ordinary financial concern seeking to enrich its members at the expense of the general public.  Neither is it a loan company seeking to make a profit at the expense of the unfortunate’.  
He added: “The credit union is nothing of the kind, it is the expression in the field of economics of a high social ideal.”
He advised that as a financial cooperation owned, managed and controlled by the members, they must continue to emphasize that they are unique, not for profit and not a charity. That they are expected to provide more flexible, convenient and reasonably priced, financial and non financial services to the members.  
“These values make our movement the preferred financial service outlet for many people. It is against this backdrop that we continue to call on the regulatory authority to recognize our difference in formulating the regulatory environment for micro-finance in the Gambia”, he pointed out.
In his opening remarks, Edrissa Bojang Chairman of the Board, said that it is gratifying to recall that fifteen years ago, precisely August 1996, a handful of enthusiastic members of the GTU resolved on this ground to start the GTUCCU as conceptualize by the 1992 congress in that land mark resolution.  
According to him, coming back where it all started is therefore both sentimental and historic, and he went further to pronounce that their homecoming has the character of a proud return of a successful hustler. 
 He went on to state that since they left here in 1996, no effort was spared by all those who had the chance to serve in their attempt to improve teachers’ souci-economic status.  
  He indicated that fifteen years in the life of a credit union is long enough to educate leadership on the needs and aspirations of those they try to serve.  
It is enough also to highlight gaps, weaknesses and inadequacies that must be addressed if the credit union is first to survive and respond to those needs.  
  Bojang told the AGM that this was the reason they at the Board concluded, during their recent meetings, that the mistakes they made during inception must be rectified now.  He said they wasted lots of opportunities presented by this union which had set them aback, but he hoped they could muster the courage to put the past behind them by trusting the new dimensions ensuing which the AGM sought to initiate.

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