A Credit Union Interest Group was launched recently in the European Parliament. The group will act as a caucus for 15 MEPs who support credit unions. Among them are European Parliament Vice-President Ryszard Czarnecki from Poland and MEP Marian Harkin of the Republic of Ireland, who will co-chair the group. MEP Richard Howitt of the UK will act as the group’s vice-chair.
Commenting on the launch of the group, Brian Branch, president and chief executive of the World Council of Credit Unions, said: “We are honoured that so many prominent MEPs have come together to support credit unions and the important financial inclusion role they play in Europe. It is these MEPs who have consistently supported credit unions and helped to maintain a regulatory environment in the EU that achieves safe and sound credit union regulation without imposing excessive compliance burdens that would make it difficult for credit unions to serve Europeans of modest means.”
A new social economy bill could change the legislative framework for co-operatives in Argentina. Officially launched on 13 December, the draft law was designed by Dr Patricio Griffin, president of the National Institute of Association and Social Economy, and aims to strengthen the sector.
According to Dr Griffin, the bill would improve bankruptcy laws as well as increase participation of workers in the administration and ownership of bankrupt enterprises. Over the next few months, co-operators and representatives from the social economy will take part in various forums where they will debate the draft bill before it gets sent to the parliament.
“We want to discuss a law that includes proactive guarantees for the sector,” said Dr Griffin.
“This law is a project that does not end here, it will define our next 10-15 years.”
Speaking at the Women’s International Forum, Helen Clark, administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, talked about the role of the organisation in driving women’s economic empowerment. Ms Clark, who also chairs the United Nations Development Group, gave examples of how the UNDP has helped women take advantage of programmes for micro-entrepreneurs. In Gambia the organisation has supported co-operatives of women who harvest oysters and cockles.
She said: “Through the co-operatives, women learn about the sustainable management of these fisheries and have been able to boost their incomes.”
Ms Clark also referred to the UN’s post-2015 development agenda, which should be “bold and transformational for women too”.
Electric co-operatives in the USA have secured a big legislative win with a new law that protects the full pension benefits of their employees. President Obama signed the law, which is part of the US Government Funding Bill, on 16 December.
While it is not specific to co-operatives, the law will benefit 10,000 employees of electric co-operatives against a change in practices from the Internal Revenue Service (the US government agency responsible for tax collection and tax law enforcement).
With the new law, co-op employees under the age of 62 will continue to have access to the service-based “quasi retirement” feature of their Retirement Security Plan sponsored by the National Rural Electric Co-operatives Association (NRECA). More than 880 rural electric co-operatives participate in NRECA’s sponsored retirement plan, covering 55,000 employees in 47 states. Over 300 of these co-ops have a “normal retirement age” which is 62 or at 30 years service if this is reached earlier.
The government of Singapore aims to amend the legislation on credit co-operatives and has launched a public consultation to receive feedback from the movement on the proposed changes. The country’s 27 credit co-operatives have 142,000 members, SGD $756.5m (£374.8m) in members’ deposits and SGD $14.6m (£7.2m) in members’ share capital.
The legislation of credit co-operatives was last updated in 2008. To date, almost all credit unions have met or are on the track of meeting the prudential requirements issued by the registry.
The proposed recommendations aim to raise prudential standards and promote compliance, improve governance standards and enhance regulatory powers to deal with distressed and errant credit co-operatives. The government is inviting credit co-operatives, their members and the public to share their views on the proposed changes by emailing [email protected] by 2 February.
In this article
- Brian Branch
- Credit union
- European Parliament
- European Union
- Helen Clark
- Internal Revenue Service
- Marian Harkin
- National Rural Electric Co-operatives Association
- Patricio Griffin
- Ryszard Czarnecki
- United Kingdom
- United Nations
- United Nations Development Group
- United Nations Development Programme
- United States
- World Council of Credit Unions
- North America
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