The Executive Committee of the Ghana Cooperative Credit Unions Association (CUA) has paid a courtesy call on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Monday, 28th June 2021 at Jubilee House.
In the presentation of CUA, given by its Chairman Dr. Bernard B. B. Bingab, the Association congratulated the president on his re-election to the seat of the president.
He also expressed the profound appreciation of the Association for its first-ever audience granted by a sitting president for such an engagement; and continued to convey their heartfelt appreciation for an over-US$3.5million grant that had been made available for CUA to acquire a Core Banking System for the enhanced operations of Cooperative Credit Unions in Ghana.
He indicated to the president their continuous engagement with the Ministry of Finance and World Bank toward ensuring a smooth and successful implementation of the project to benefit the entire membership of the Credit Union movement in Ghana.
Dr. Bingab provided an overview of CUA – explaining that it is the apex body of Cooperative Credit Unions in Ghana, established in 1968 under the Cooperative Societies Act, 1968 (N.L.C.D 252) of the Department of Cooperatives (DoC) of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, headquartered at CUA House in Adabraka and with eleven Chapter offices across the country.
He gave insights into the key activities of CUA for Credit Unions: including advocacy, supervision, auditing, financial services and MIS, among other technical support services.
He mentioned that CUA is member of the Ghana Microfinance Institutions Network (GHAMFIN), and affiliated to the Ghana Cooperative Council (GCC) – adding that internationally CUA is a member of the African Confederation of Cooperative Savings and Credit Association (ACCOSCA) and the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU).
Speaking to the Credit Union Movement in Ghana, he indicated that the Movement (with members supporting themselves through cooperation in savings mobilization and loans administration) has undergone expansion over the past decades, with collective assets currently estimated at about GH¢2.2billion and a membership numbering over 850,000 in 551 credit unions – intimating that the movement has now become a well-established part of Ghana’s financial ecosystem.
He specifically clarified that while other financial institutions primarily focus on providing profits to shareholders, credit unions’ purpose has been to provide service to members; thus making them rooted in the prosperity and quality of life of their members and communities.
He is optimistic that Credit Unions are appropriately positioned as a tool for poverty alleviation and socio-economic development, supporting government’s agenda of a ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’.
Credit Unions Regulation
Speaking to the state’s function of regulating Credit Unions in Ghana, Dr. Bingab explained that passage of the Credit Unions Legislative Instrument, LI 2225 (2015) was among others things to: encourage greater prudence in the management of loans granted by the credit unions; ensure adequate capital; provide greater guidelines for investment activities of credit unions; and ensure a more effective corporate governance system, while safeguarding the cooperative principles of volunteerism, democracy and transparency.
He however expressed concerns of the Association that the LI 2225 has since its passage in 2015 not been operationalized – hence recommending a roundtable discussion among the Ministries of Finance, Employment and Labour Relations and Bank of Ghana together with CUA to fashion-out the best way to regulate Credit Unions in Ghana, as done in other sister countries like The Gambia and Kenya.
He acknowledged the existence of a couple of laws that govern regulation of Credit Unions – such as the Cooperative Degree, Bank of Ghana Act and the non-Banking Financial Act – but indicated the Association believes these laws are multi-sectoral and therefore need to be harmonized to make regulation effective.
Other Key Challenges Facing Credit Unions in Ghana
Dr. Bingab provided the president with some key challenges confronting the credit union movement in Ghana.
Locked-up funds – While recognizing the intervention of government following the financial sector clean-up exercise, he intimated that the credit union movement still has a significant part of its investment funds locked-up.
This, according to him, has led to severe liquidity challenges and burdened the operations of CUA and many Credit Unions in the country.
He mentioned that an amount of over GH₵130million of their funds has been locked-up with twenty-one (21) defunct financial institutions, while an amount of over GH₵50million is locked up with ten (10) existing financial institutions – summing up to a total of over GH₵180million as at 28th June 2021.
He appealed for government to facilitate mechanisms so the Movement can retrieve all its locked-up funds.
The effects of the Corona Virus Pandemic (Covid-19) – The Association presented to the president that the COVID-19 pandemic has not spared the Credit Union Movement in Ghana; even though government continues its efforts by instituting various protocols to keeping it under control.
He bemoaned the negative effects of the pandemic on the Credit Unions – including high levels of savings withdrawals; high loan delinquencies; negative impact on cash flow; high operational costs; and job losses.
He appealed to the president to provide the Movement some leverage by honouring its request to be considered for participation in the intervention programme of government through the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA).
In his concluding remarks, Dr. Bingab expressed the Movement’s dedication in advancing government’s policy of job creation and poverty alleviation through financial inclusion, particularly for those that seem to be excluded in the banking space. He finally thanked the president and sector minister for their commitment to the advancement of Cooperative Credit Unions in Ghana.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in a speech, thanked leadership of the Movement for calling on him, indicating that such engagements are needed for nation building.
He acknowledged the hard work of the Credit Union Movement in Ghana, and admonished the leadership to remain committed to their mandate.
The president noted their regulatory concerns, and accordingly directed the sector minister to facilitate the process and call for a roundtable discussion between the Bank of Ghana, Department of Cooperatives and CUA to discuss the issue of regulation as it is key and important to governance and development.
On the issue of locked-up funds of the Movement, the president directed his Executive Secretary to liaise with the Receiver of the collapsed financial institutions and the regulator (Securities and Exchange Commission) to find a lasting solution to payment of the locked-up funds.
He again welcomed the request of the Association to be considered for participation in government’s Covid-19 Alleviation Programme through the Ghana Enterprises Agency, and referred same to the sector minister for his expeditious facilitation.
He thanked the leadership of CUA once again for the healthy engagement and their resolve to support government’s poverty alleviation objectives.