Preserve CUs’ Ability to Serve, WOCCU Tells G8 Meeting
MADISON, Wis.—Better access to payment and
settlement systems, appropriate levels of
regulation and continued tax-exempt status are
critical to helping credit unions worldwide
effectively serve their members. Those were the
recommendations the World Council of Credit Unions
(WOCCU) made to ministers of finance for the G8
nations at last week’s outreach meeting on
remittances in Berlin. WOCCU’s experience also
shows that increasing remittances among
countries has become a critical factor in global
economic development, said Dave Grace, WOCCU vice
president of Association Services, to an assembled
audience of 80 attendees.
The official boardroom of the Bundesministerum der Finanzen (German Ministry of Finance) hosted the G8 participants for a two-day meeting focused on increasing global remittance flows.
As a participant in “Reaching Out to the
Unbanked,” a panel discussion featuring
representatives of international microfinance
organizations, Grace shared ways to broaden access
to financial services, including improved access
to remittances as one strategy to reach
populations with limited or no financial
resources. Physical, financial and environmental
barriers still block some of the world’s
population from financial services access.
Surmounting those barriers may involve policy and
procedure strengthening or changes at national and
even local levels, he said.
“Credit unions require direct access to national
payment/settlement systems, card networks and
deposit insurance programs in all markets in order
to serve members,” Grace said. “Prudential and
proportional regulatory supervision of credit
unions is also critical to assuring a safe and
sound operational environment. We encourage
retention of tax-exempt status for financial
co-ops to ensure that they can continue to serve
the poor and reach unbanked populations.”
WOCCU’s Dave Grace, Vice President of Association Services, addresses the G8 ministries of finance in Berlin, Germany.
The meeting included delegations from the G8
nations of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan,
Russia, United Kingdom and United States.
Representatives from the European Commission, as
well as other countries, international
organizations, the private sector, civil society,
and academia also participated.
During the two-day meeting, representatives from
the World Bank, International Monetary Fund,
Western Union, Citibank and others, led six panel
discussions on topics including the recent trends
and development impact of remittances.
The meeting accomplished two main objectives,
Grace said. Participants sought to revisit and
assess the progress of measures to facilitate
remittance flows agreed upon at the Sea Island
(Georgia) Summit hosted by President Bush in 2004.
During this meeting, the G8 launched its Global
Remittance Initiative as part of the larger Global
Poverty Action Plan. The Berlin meeting also
served as a forum to initiate new dialog and to
promote other potential measures for facilitating
remittance flows. As a result of the meeting,
participants developed seven recommendations for
the G8 countries which addressed challenges,
policy and regulation issues of further improving
global remittances flows.
The flow of remittances has grown to more than
US$240 billion a year in 2006—two and half times
more than the total annual aid paid from developed
to developing countries and two-thirds the amount
of global foreign direct investment. In addition
to this latest meeting with the G8, WOCCU has also
testified before the U.S. Congress and was quoted
in the London Financial Times on
remittances in August 2007.
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 57,000 credit unions in 105 countries serve 217 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.
Contact: Rebecca Carpenter
Organization: World Council of Credit Unions