Get ready for the war against want Consumer Concerns
By Eileen Cox
Stabroek News
April 14, 2002

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It's time for consumers to be on the warpath. Be ready for the War against Want. The fight begins with the establishment of Credit Unions countrywide. If you don't yet believe in credit unions in spite of all that has been said, let me invite you to read what has been said about credit unions by CUNA Inc, the Credit Union National Association of the United States, which provides insurance for credit union members in other countries.

About credit unions

"A credit union is a financial institution that is owned and operated by its members and exists to serve their saving and borrowing needs. There are nearly 23,000 credit unions in the U.S. serving some 40 million members. The members of each credit union share some type of a common bond - for example, they may work for the same company, belong to the same church, attend the same school or live in the same community. This common bond qualifies them for membership in that particular credit union so they can help each other by pooling their financial resources.

The officers and committee members who run the credit union are volunteers elected by the members. There are no stockholders for whom the credit union must generate a profit - so after operating expenses and legal reserves have been paid, the credit union returns any surplus funds to the members in the form of dividends. Because the credit union is a non-profit low-cost operation, it is able to offer its members a high return on savings and low interest rates on loans.

Credit unions usually offer their members a variety of other financial services, one of which is insurance benefits. Members who borrow from the credit union can be covered by Loan Protection Insurance at no extra cost to them: if an eligible borrower should die, the insurance would pay off the balance of the loan, up to policy limits, thus relieving the family's burden of debt. Eligible members may also be covered by Life Saving Insurance, which provides them with life insurance benefits based on the amount of savings they have on deposit in the credit union".

The above statement is some twenty years old. More recent statements will be provided when available. But credit unions are big business. There is a World Council of Credit Unions and their magazine shows that the movement still goes forward in all parts of the world. Why not in Guyana".

Credit Unions are the beginning of the movement of people working in harmony to pull themselves out of a ditch. There are other forms of co-operatives that can be embarked upon to give fuller meaning to life. When consumers develop their own credit unions and other co-operatives they no longer have to go cap in hand begging for jobs. They make jobs for themselves.

From the credit union management you can graduate to manage mortgages and insurance business. No longer will men dominate in these fields. No longer will the Boards of Directors be limited to members of an elite club. Any consumer can qualify himself and seek the highest position.

At the University of Wisconsin Madison, there is the University Center for Co-operatives. The University offers courses in co-operatives. The present head of our Co-operative Credit Union Co-operative League, Mr Leon Stewart benefited from a scholarship at that university.

This is not the IMF and World Bank. This is people helping people. When you become a member of a credit union you become part of a world movement. You are aware that there are other organisations extending a hand of friendship. It is a global movement.

Credit unions cannot develop on a sound base without a training institute. We already have the Kuru Kuru (Extra Mural Department) situated in Lodge with facilities for training. And this must not be a Georgetown enterprise. Ms Myrtle Richards, who heads the Department, says that there is good material in Essequibo. Leadership qualities must be found in every region and must be developed.

So we come down to our course of action. The password must be "DRIVE". We must follow the lead of COURTS. Take bold steps and avoid the pessimists. Put on your blinkers and move ever forward.