JIS News

The co-operative movement has kept Jamaica’s economy going, and even through turbulent times, it has remained firm in providing credit to small enterprises, said Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Michael Stern.
He was addressing a church service on Sunday (Feb. 15), at the Spring Ground Missionary Church in Manchester, to celebrative the 50th anniversary of the National Union of Co-operative Societies.
In highlighting the movement’s achievements, Mr. Stern said that since inception, co-operative societies have responded and continue to respond to the social and economic needs of the clients, whom they serve.
“By providing low-cost credit, the credit unions have given thousands of Jamaicans the opportunity to build up a credit record for the future, by obtaining personal loans, or to finance small or micro enterprises,” he pointed out.
He said that given the history of stability of the co-operative societies, they were well placed to see Jamaica through the current economic challenges.
“During the mid to late nineties, when Jamaica’s financial system was in meltdown, by and large, credit unions stood tall and remained resilient and solvent. I strongly encourage the leaders of this movement to ensure that the same good management and prudence that prevailed back then, be emphasised even more so today, and that credit unions and other co-operatives can remain strong to help us through this rough period,” he stated.
The State Minister encouraged the co-operative societies to continue to finance and sustain small businesses, noting that they were a very important economic group.
“As a Government, we see an increasingly important role being played by credit unions and co-operative bodies in reaching the thousands of Jamaicans, who cannot obtain loans from the other financial institutions,” he pointed out.
There are 16 registered co-operative societies in Jamaica, of which three are financial and 13 are non-financial, with membership in excess of 1.3 million. As at October 2008, the total savings of the institutions was recorded at more than $40 billion, while the asset base was in excess of $50 billion and the loan portfolio was more than $34 billion.

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