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Let them cash Govt cheques
President Anthony Carmona has renewed his call for the Government to allow pension cheques to be cashed at credit unions and has encouraged the credit union institutions to consider providing currency exchange services strictly for the Caribbean
Carmona was addressing members of the 69-year-old Palo Seco Credit Union Co-operative Society (PALSECCU) at their Palo Seco headquarters on Tuesday, where he also opened an account in recognition of International Credit Union Day today.
Recalling that he made the suggestion two years ago, Carmona again said: “Moves should be afoot to ensure that pensioners, for example, are able to cash their cheques at credit unions and not only at certain institutions.”
Applauding the movement’s corporate philosophy, he said: “You have a proven track record. I cannot recall of any credit union floundering on the rocks of economic negligence. But I can recall a lot of big, big companies, financial giants, falling like Goliath did in the face of the wisdom of David and you all, ladies and gentlemen, are the David in the Goliath of our economics.”
Encouraging the credit union to apply to be an exchange cambio, Carmona gave examples of his being unable to get currency for other Caribbean islands and instead being offered US when he went to banks.
He suggested the credit unions weight the possibility of running cambios trading in regional currency.
“Why not? It will take the strain off of the US requirements that are often demanded...by the various business people,” said Carmona, who assured them that they have his unstinted support.
Speaking with reporters afterwards, PALSECCU president Alvin Stevenson said the movement has long advocated that credit unions, as indigenous institutions, should be given the opportunity to encash all government cheques.
Stevenson, who had said earlier that his credit union had $500 million in assets, was confident they had the resources to facilitate these services.
Endorsing Stevenson’s remarks, Co-operative Credit Union League president Joseph Remy said the encashment of government cheques and a credit union corporate bank were two of the recommendations in the the league’s budget proposals made to Finance Minister Colm Imbert.
He said there was a slight move in this direction as they recently had discussions with the Ministry of Social Development about people who received social benefits engaging the services of the credit unions.
On the issue of Caribbean foreign exchange, he said: “It will ease the foreign exchange challenges that some of the Caribbean countries are facing. We are fully in support of that and we believe that is going to tie in quite nicely with our demand for the credit union bank and we believe the legislation framework should be made amenable to the movement.
“We will have to do our work, but the ILO study is critically important for us and as such, once that is completed we believe the credit union should be allowed to run its own bank.”
However, he said there was a resistance because the corporate entities felt threatened by the credit unions.
“The banks are the ones who are digging out the average customers’ eyes, but then they are the ones who carry the corporate world and as such, they are the ones who will get the support and they believe that an indigenous movement like the credit union, run by noble humble citizens, is a major threat to them and that is why there is push back.”
But he said the credit union movement had “a clear intent to push forward” with establishing their own bank.
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