Sister Credit Unions in Ghana have been urged to adhere to strict corporate governance and prudent financial management of the savings and investments of their members.
Mr Isaac Amuriyaga, Board Chairman of the Navrongo Teachers Cooperative Credit Union Ltd. (NTCCU), made the call at the Union's 18th Annual General Meeting (AGM) held at Navrongo over the weekend.
Mr Amuriyaga noted that since the promulgation of the Cooperative Credit Union Legislative Instrument, LI 2225 which brought all such unions under the supervision of the Bank of Ghana, it was a must for all unions to operate within the dictates of the LI so as not to fall victim to any sanctions thereof.
The Board Chairman pledged that under his leadership, the Board would continue to assess the current state of the Union and formulate strategic projections and policies targeted at improving the fortunes of the Union for the benefit of all members.
Meanwhile, he singled out Mr Solomon Kantogjei, Manager of the Union for commendation because the officer had ensured the pragmatic and prompt implementation of Board decisions which positively affected operations over the period.
In his annual report to the AGM, Mr Amuriyaga disclosed that membership of the Union had increased from 3,680 as at June 2016 to 4,279 by end of 2017, representing an addition of 599 new members while current savings of the Union stood at GH₵3,782,787.76 from the previous year's figure of GH₵ 3,221,568.97, indicating a rise of 17.4 per cent.
He said other indicators such as share capital mobilisation also rose to GH₵ 290,756.99 from a previous amount of GH₵224,553.85 while the Assets and Capital base of the Union also grew from GH₵3,759,885.59 to GH₵4,745,880.50 by end of 2017.
On loan applications, he disclosed that of the 1,224 received during the period, 46 of them were rejected due to reasons including bad payment of previous loans and dumping or insufficient savings while others got rejected because applicants simply failed to have conference with the loans committee.
Mr Amuriyaga said the Union spent a total of GH₵ 350,000.00 on the construction of its office complex's second floor, a fence wall and a dual culvert for easy access into and out of the premises.
He enumersated the challenges encountered during the reporting period to include frequent partial withdrawals, scanty savings, poor attitude towards loan repayments and poor customer care by some staff and pledged the resolve of management to make the Union more viable and attractive to all.
In his remarks, Mr Nana Kwesi Agyapong, Group Chief Executive Officer of Credit Unions Association of Ghana (CUA), hinted that in order to make credit union operations universal, a system was being fashioned out and would be launched on March 30, 2018 which would allow for inter-credit union transactions.
Furthermore, he said, there were also plans to set up and operationalise a credit union share branch in each central business district of Ghana to create convenience and improve accessibility.
Mr Agyapong also observed that the youth were not attracted to do business with credit unions and that CUA was ready to introduce a mobile banking App for transactions and other cash transfers.
He said contrary to views held by some people that credit unions were meant for only the poor, the unions were far better than the traditional banks because ordinary members had the opportunity to attend and personally make suggestions at AGMs.
He disclosed that many credit unions in the country would soon be merged due to their inability to meet certain critical requirements set by the Bank of Ghana.
The merger, he emphasised, was to safeguard the deposits of members while ensuring sanity in their operations.
Mr Agyapong explained that the caliber of unions to be affected by this move would mainly include faith-based and community credit unions, adding that a list would soon be published and the names and other merger information would be available for the consumption of the public.
He charged the Board and staff of the NTCCU to work even harder to better the lives of its members and other clients because history had it that the first Credit Union to ever operate in Ghana started on September 2, 1955 in Jirapa in the Upper West Region which, he said, should be a source of pride to all unions up north to guard this feat jealously through excellent performance year by year.
At the close of the AGM, Management of the NTCCU presented a GH₵2,000.00 cheque to the Catholic Church in Navrongo in response to an appeal for donations for a priest to undergo surgery.
The NTCCU started operations on January 31, 1997 and was initially composed of only teachers. The Union's membership was later opened to many more individuals and groups such as market women, business men and other professionals. Members make savings over a specified period and become eligible to access loans for business and other purposes.
The existence of the union has boosted economic activities in and around the Navrongo area. NTCCU's 18th AGM was on the theme: "Credit Union; Where Dreams Are Fulfilled".