JIS News

Milton Brown, Manager for the People’s Cooperative (PC) Banks for the Western Region, has reported an increase in business since the merger of the co-operatives in St. James in 1999.
Speaking with JIS News following a special general meeting of the St. James Integrated People’s Co-operative Bank on Tuesday, October 6 at the Seventh Day Adventist Church Hall, Mr. Brown said that over the four-year period, the savings portfolio has grown from $15 million to $37 million, while the loan portfolio has increased from $30 million to $52.6 million. The merger involved the amalgamation of the financial resources and services of the various co-operatives in the parish, with a view to increasing efficiency and viability.
He said the integration had resulted in a diversification of the services offered by the banks from just offering loans to farmers to becoming deposit-taking institutions.
While not giving any detailed figures, Mr. Brown said the delinquency rate for loan repayments within the St. James PC Bank “was not at an unusual level, based on the percentage of agricultural lending”.
“It’s not that the farmers don’t want to pay, most times they just don’t have the wherewithal to pay,” he pointed out.
“So the PC Bank has been, more or less, most considerate when it comes on to that. We take a look at their circumstances, and what we have done over the years is that once the farmer is still engaged in farming, we are willing at all times to sit down with him and to restructure the debt, to ensure that it is paid, and that he keeps going on,” he further informed.
Mr. Brown also endorsed the move to merge all the country’s cooperatives into one national entity, noting that the initiative would result in improvements in the areas of marketing, credit policy, staffing arrangements and general efficiency and effectiveness.

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