Remarks by the Minister for Finance, Mr Brian Cowen, T.D
Launch of Irish League of Credit Unions Annual Report 2006
16 April 2007
I am delighted to have been invited here today by your CEO Liam O’Dwyer on behalf of your President, Anne O’Byrne and Board of the Irish League of Credit Unions to launch your Annual Report for 2006.
This occasion provides an excellent opportunity to take stock of the continued progress achieved by the credit union movement in
What is also very clear from the Annual Report - drawing on the experienced derived from the World Conference of Credit Unions meeting hosted with great success by the League in July last year - is the very healthy and vibrant state of the Irish credit union movement by international standards.
Credit unions have clearly shared in the transformation of the economy and Irish society over the last decade. This has been achieved by a continued commitment to the fundamental values of the credit union movement, a capacity and willingness to change in response to the changes in the needs of the communities you serve and above all by the hard work of 9,500 volunteers and the 3,500 staff.
As acknowledged in your Annual Report, as Minister for Finance I have sought to support the development needs of credit unions in order to help ensure that they remain an integral part of both the social and financial landscape in
In August 2006 I introduced Regulations under the Credit Union Act, to increase the maximum limit on member’s shares and deposits to help maintain the attractiveness of credit unions for members’ savings.
Ministerial Regulations I made in October 2006 increased nominations and small payments on the death of credit union members – an important measure when considered in the context of the growth of the average level of member’s savings since 1997.
Last month I enacted Regulations enabling credit unions to make Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs) available to their members.
As you are aware, substantial progress has also been made over the last year to address current restrictions on the amount of longer-term lending credit unions can carry out. This was identified by the League as a significant obstacle to meeting your members’ financial needs.
The report of the Review Group which I established to examine this issue was published last February and Regulations to implement the recommended increases in current limits - subject to certain safeguards - are currently being drafted by my Department.
I also agreed in line with the Review Group’s recommendation that the definition governing longer-term lending contained in the Credit Union Act should be amended to ensure its interpretation is practical and workable. This matter will be brought to Government very shortly in the context of the MiFID and Miscellaneous Financial Provisions Bill.
I welcome the progress that has been made in recent discussions with the Registrar of Credit Unions on the reform of the Savings Protection Scheme (SPS) for credit unions which could allow a restructured SPS to be approved by the Regulatory Authority. As you know I have consistently highlighted the importance of robust savings protection arrangements in credit unions, an objective which I know is shared by the League as a whole.
All of the above issues have been progressed on the basis of consultation and dialogue with the credit union movement. I would like to take this opportunity to express my thanks to the Board and Executives of the League for their commitment to this partnership approach, the continuation and intensification of which will be essential to the successful delivery of continued change and reform for credit unions.
As detailed in your Annual Report, the credit union movement remains at the heart of social finance provision in
In conclusion, I know that at your Biennial Conference in Belfast at the end of this month you will be considering some important decisions that will shape the future direction of the credit union movement in
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