Trinidad and Tobago look at reforms to strengthen credit union sector

Proposals include establishing an Independent Co-operative Authority to regulate the country’s co-op sector

The government of Trinidad and Tobago is considering a proposal to form an Independent Co-operative Authority to regulate the country’s co-operative sector.

The policy proposal is supported by the Co-operative Credit Union League of Trinidad & Tobago (CCULTT), the World Council of Credit Unions (Woccu), and the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions (CCCU), Woccu’s direct member in the region, as well as a number of other key stakeholders, who met earlier this month to develop reforms of the sector. 

“It is important that policymakers understand the unique nature of credit unions as member-owned financial co-operatives and how that model can enhance services to underserved and marginalised communities,” said Joseph Remy, president of CCULTT and a board director for both CCCU and Woccu.

“We know from our international networks and experience that properly tailored regulations that enhance safety and soundness are the best way to achieve these results.”

 In January 2019, Trinidad and Tobago’s government appointed a ministerial sub-committee to examine the credit union sector and make recommendations to strengthen it, and has also received support from institutions including the World Bank. 

Other reforms under consideration by the sub-committee include the adoption of deposit insurance, which, says WOCCU, will help advance and modernise regulations for credit unions. 

Trinidad and Tobago is home to 129 credit unions, serving around 753,000 members and representing approximately US$3m in assets. It is one of the most vibrant systems in the Caribbean. 

 Andrew Price, Woccu’s senior vice-president of advocacy and general counsel, said: “We applaud the efforts of Trinidad and Tobago to evolve and strengthen the regulatory framework for credit unions.

“If done correctly, this is a real opportunity to maximise the ability of community-based financial institutions to improve financial inclusion, which is key to enhancing the welfare and local economic growth for the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.” 

Woccu, CCULTT and CCCU will continue to work with policymakers on the reforms moving forward.