Jirapa (UW), Oct 23, GNA - Credit Union Associations (CUA) from all parts of the country on Saturday retraced their roots to Jirapa in the Upper West Region where they climaxed activities marking their Golden Jubilee celebration with a grand durbar. The associations earlier in the day went on a float through the principal streets of Wa before converging at the Reverend Father McNaulty Hall in Jirapa where the credit union concept was initiated 50 years ago by the Canadian Priest and propagated by Archbishop Emeritus Peter Dery.
The Celebration had the theme; "Credit Unions: Making Thousands of People Grow. Join the Happy Family".
In an address to mark the occasion, the Catholic Bishop of Wa, Very Reverend Paul Bemile called on credit unions to come out with innovative products to sustain their service delivery to impact on society. As grass root development agents, he said, the unions still had a long way to go to justify that role especially in the mobilization and management of local resources for development.
"CUA has, in no small way, contributed to employee welfare and reduced labour unrest in organizations where they existed."
Mr Ambrose Dery, the Upper West Regional Minister, urged CUA to embark on vigorous campaigns in the communities especially in the northern sector whose people were more deprived to mobilize more savings for development.
He said out of 261 active credit unions in the country, only 32 operated in the three northern regions. Their rural people, the Regional Minister said, were excluded from the formal banking system due to distance, culture and affordability as most of them continued to hide their money in their rooms with the attendant high risk of loosing it. Mr Dery said Cooperative Credit Union education should include teaching people to exercise their democratic rights and responsibilities.
" While teaching our people to save regularly, borrow wisely and repay their loans promptly, we would be developing our human resources and empowering people to exercise their democratic rights". Mr Paul Kotobridja, the Chairman of the Board of CUA, said membership of the Unions rose from 76,356 in 2000 to 156,000 in 2004 with a corresponding increase in deposits from 85 billion cedis to 340 billion cedis during the period.
The loan portfolio also went up from 38 billion cedis in 2000 to 254 billion cedis in 2004 while total assets stood at 348 billion cedis in the same year as against 54 billion in 2000.
He reiterated the need for a credit union law to govern the activities and raise the image and identity of the unions to play a pivotal role in socio-economic development.
Mr Emmanuel Oduro Darko, the General Manager of CUA, said small savers seemed to lack motivation to save, hence the low savings mobilization in the country.
They should, therefore appreciate the small moneys they had and grow it by putting it in micro financial institutions like credit unions.
Individuals and organizations that had contributed to the growth of the Credit Union concept in the Country were honoured at the ceremony and they included, Very Rev Dery.