Credit unions are member based financial institutions established to provide financial guidance, direction and assistance aimed at enriching members’ lives by creating sustainable living through channelling and pulling of members resources to assist each other. The concept of credit unions is based around the philosophy of “each one help one” and serve as not–for-profit organizations. Credit unions evolved out of the growing need to help the less privileged in society by providing financial assistance and resources that otherwise would not have been made available to members. Today, there are sixteen (16) registered and functioning credit unions and one (1) credit union league, operating in St. Lucia.
Brief History of Regulation
In 1948, an Ordinance No.17 of 1946 was promulgated. In 1967, a Department of Co-operatives was formed to oversee the regulation and supervision of Co-operative Societies including credit unions. The Co-operative Societies Act, Cap.12.06 came in force on September 11, 1999 and was revised in 2008. The Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) commenced operations in January of 2014 upon which time, the portfolio of credit union supervision was transferred to the FSRA for supervision. Therefore, the Registrar of credit unions is the Registrar of the FSRA, in keeping with an amendment to the Co-operatives Societies Act, Cap 12.06, Section 2 (5)(A) which states, “Notwithstanding subsection 5, for the purposes of regulating credit unions, the Registrar of Co-operatives shall be the Financial Services Regulatory Authority and a credit union shall, in addition to the provisions of this Act, be subject to the provisions of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority Act and the Financial Services Regulatory Authority shall be responsible for the administration of this Act in relation to credit unions.”
Significant Developments with the Sector:
Consultation was undertaken with the Co-operatives sector in an effort to revise the current legislation to allow for harmonization of legislation within the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Region and to make provision for improved prudential financial and governance standards in keeping with international accepted best practises for the credit union sector. To this end, a proposed draft Co-operative Societies Bill has been submitted to the relevant Authorities for review and onward submission to the Cabinet of Ministers for assessment.