|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.”
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, 56,000 credit unions in 101 countries serve 200 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.