Credit Union League Gives J$4 Million to COVID-19 Telethon

The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, has received the symbolic cheque of the generous contribution of the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League to Telethon Jamaica: Together We Stand.

Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League has contributed J$4 million to the telethon which raised funds to provide Jamaica’s frontline workers with equipment to battle COVID-19.

Minister Grange, who led the team that organised the telethon, received the symbolic cheque from the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League, Mr Robin Levy on Tuesday.

Minister Grange said:
“I wish to thank the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League for this great display of generosity. This is a real example of people helping people. Your donation of J$4 million is going a long way in helping Jamaica to battle the COVID-19 Pandemic by helping to provide much needed Personal Protective Equipment for our frontline workers.”

The Group Marketing and Communications Manager of the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League, Ms Claudette Christie, said credit unions will continue to “work cooperatively with agencies as together we fight this dreaded virus.”

Ms Christie said:
Our credit union mantra is ‘people helping people’. This is not only true of the services that members pool their resources to provide each other. It is also true of the way we treat with our Jamaican brothers and sisters. That is why we have joined with Telethon Jamaica to assist in this fight against COVID-19 to provide well needed PPEs for health personnel and the security forces at the forefront of the fight. Our care is demonstrated in our donation of J$4M towards the fund.”

Minister Grange thanked all those across the world who have contributed to Telethon Jamaica: Together We Stand which has so far raised more than J$50 million.

The Minister said people can still contribute to the fund at or

To donate by telephone, call 888-729-2455 (toll free), 876-960-9635, 1-866-228-8393 (toll free from Jamaica, the United States or Canada) or +44 0808 189 6147 (toll free from UK and Europe); or WhatsApp 876-550-1754.

Cash and cheque donations are being accepted at any Paymaster location in Jamaica or any branch of Citibank to account number 9250709218 (outside of Jamaica).

Contributions to Telethon Jamaica: Together We Stand go directly to a fund — managed by the charity, Jamaica’s Promise — to purchase Personal Protective Equipment, testing kits, ventilators and other equipment needed to strengthen the response to COVID-19.

Credit Union League to use Foundation to encourage philanthropic efforts

Stepping into the role of head of the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League (JCCUL) not only requires having the support of the team to lead the movement in this new area of financial technology and demand from inclusion of the unbanked, but Robin Levy has been tasked with charting a new vision for the league’s charitable arm.

Levy has a simple strategy – use the existing vision of the credit union to guide its members to help needy Jamaicans.

With more than 1.02 million members, that is a formidable resource to provide service to the entire island. Levy shares that the JCCUL Foundation will be reaching out through its members to determine the best way to have the biggest impact in the various communities that they serve.

“Credit unions have a motto ‘Not for profit, not for charity, but for service’,” Levy explains. “Ideally what you’d want is every organisation in Jamaica, every household in Jamaica, is to understand that they have a responsibility for the less fortunate in the society – those who do need that assistance. And then we’d build strategies around that, where we can do the most good, and in the most sustainable way.”

The league is the umbrella organisation for the 28 credit unions around the country, and Levy points out: “Credit unions are always ready to assist people who need help. Financially, specifically, because we’re a financial organisation. But every credit union needs to determine for itself how it is going to do what it wants to do. But we do provide one collective entity, and the idea with this entity is to have a strategy so that our corporate social responsibility is carried out in line with our mission and our vision for the entire movement.”

The credit union has a long history in Jamaica, and while each credit union can reach out to assist in their respective communities, the JCCUL is the national voice. Levy intends to use that influence to demonstrate the power of the league’s democratic principles.

“You have to remember that other financial institutions are for profit. The movement is about returning profits to our members in the form of dividends and services. And part of that service is helping to uplift members of the community who are in need.”

Levy believes that when the credit union acts in unison to impact Jamaica, that impact should be felt in a big way. He points out that one of the major ways that credit unions can make social changes is by helping foundations and other charitable organisations become more modern in their business approach and sustainable in their business practices.

Rather than live off one grant and hope for the next, Levy believes that the credit union movement can guide these entities into long-term positive impact.

That means moving from begging for charity to generating revenue to have funding for the target groups.

Levy explains: “In the same way that our country couldn’t continue begging, we had to effectively grow our economy enough so that we can sustain ourselves. Charities have to develop revenue-generating arms. They have to build trust funds large enough so that they can live off the interest of their investments. They have to do these things to make sure that they continue [to exist] and continue to serve.”

The credit unions are ready to offer consultations on this.

“And I’m speaking for my credit union managers, but I’m sure they would agree with me that we are ready to offer consultations in terms of how to be business-minded. We could open accounts for persons who are on the credit… offer investment advice. We have many licensed investment advisers in the movement who can assist with this.”

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Credit union reform takes a different turn

The reform of the credit union market has taken a new turn with regulators having agreed that the movement needs to be codified under its own statute.

It comes 18 years into consultations that have been underpinned by a strategy of devising regulations for the sector under the current banking laws, and was the basis on which the credit unions had been restructuring their operations over the years.

That remained the expectation up to January of this year, when the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League (JCCUL), the umbrella unit for the movement, was saying it expected that finally the community banks would have transitioned to central bank oversight in June.

But now JCCUL General Manager Glenworth Francis says the authorities have finally been convinced, after nearly two decades, that they were taking the wrong approach and have agreed to the drafting of a statue for the movement.

“We said it from the beginning,” Francis declared, noting that it was one of their recommendations when formal negotiations began back in 2000 to transition the credit unions to central bank oversight.

He said it was always their position that the proposed regulations would interfere down the line with the Co-operative Societies Act, the main piece of enabling legislation for credit unions.

“The truth is that a number of areas of the Co-operative Societies Act were being subsumed by the proposed regulations. I can’t see where it is possible that a set of regulations can supersede an act,” Francis told the Financial Gleaner.

Responses to requests for comment from monetary authority and regulator Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) on why they agreed to changing legislative tactics did not arrive in time for publication. In January, BOJ Deputy Governor Maurene Simms had said regulations to govern the credit unions would have been issued pursuant to Section 34F of the Bank of Jamaica Act.

Credit unions were gazetted as ‘Special Deposit Taking Institutions’ in July 1999 by then Finance Minister Dr Omar Davies, paving the way for the reforms and transition to Bank of Jamaica oversight. Deposit-taking institutions is the broad categorisation for the different types of banking outfits supervised by BOJ.

The new law is expected to be called the Credit Union Act. Francis says the agreed regulations have gone back to the parliamentary draughtsman to be converted to statute with its own regulations.

The legislative process is expected to be finalised by year end, while implementation of the new law will extend into next year, according to Francis. It means the long-standing head of JCCUL won’t get to see the reforms completed before his retirement, scheduled for the end of 2017.

“We know that March of 2018 is the deadline for implementation of the new regime,” he told the Financial Gleaner. “I would therefore want to feel that very soon, we should have a draft for review before it goes to Parliament so that it can be passed before the year is ended.”

JCCUL has been the de facto regulator of the movement since its establishment in 1942. Part of that function included the creation of a stabilisation fund, the Stab Fund, in 1962, used to rescue or cushion faltering credit unions. Francis was not prepared to disclose the current value of the fund.

However, once credit unions transition to BOJ supervision, they are eligible for participation in the insurance scheme for banks operated by Jamaica Deposit Insurance Corporation (JDIC).

Francis says JCCUL has not yet decided what will become of the stabilisation fund after the transition.

“The Stab Fund is there,” he said. “The JDIC will provide insurance coverage. The credit union movement is yet to decide how the fund will be treated afterwards.”

He agreed that one possibility would be for some of the money in the Stab Fund to be used to prepay premiums on deposit insurance on behalf of credit unions.

Over the years since the reform programme began, the credit union movement has shrunk from 43 to 30, after a series of mergers meant to shore up capital bases to more align with the BOJ’s requirements.

Some of the concessions negotiated by JCCUL included guarantees about capital formation, and the lifting of the 10 per cent limit on secured loans.

Once legislation is passed, the BOJ will move next to licensing the credit unions. Simms previously said JDIC membership was a condition of licensing.

The credit union movement has a membership base of under one million, whose savings are estimated at $78 billion amid total assets of $100 billion up to July of this year. The community banks manage a loan pool valued at $69 billion.

Published:Friday | September 1, 2017 | 9:00 AM Neville Graham

Credit Unions of Jamaica committed to Gosplash

Along with providing a path for financial freedom, the Credit Unions of Jamaica (CUJ) brand is also in support of wholesome entertainment, and it’s against that backdrop that the CUJ is back this year as the title sponsor of Gosplash.

This commitment was confirmed on Monday, April 11, with the signing of the sponsorship agreement, which took place at the offices of the Jamaica Cooperative Credit Union League in Kingston.

“This is our third consecutive year as a sponsor of Gosplash and our second year as title sponsor. We’re back in a bigger way as we’ve received significant benefits from this partnership,” said Claudette Christie, communications manager of the Jamaica Cooperative Credit Union League, the umbrella organisation for credit unions.


“The CUJ brand is not new to this kind of partnership. Gosplash is family focused by way of providing wholesome entertainment, and this fits into the mission and vision of the movement,” Christie continued.

Now in its fourth staging, CUJ Gosplash is the ultimate beach family fun day and gospel concert held annually on Emancipation Day, August 1, at Sugarman Beach in Hellshire, St Catherine.

“In this harsh economic climate, it’s very challenging to cover costs associated with producing an event of top-class quality, so my sponsors play a vital role in this regard. “ACTION Entertainment is very grateful and humbled to have as sponsors and partners, the CUJ,” said the title sponsor of Gosplash 2016,” Markland ‘Action’ Edwards, managing director of the company.

“We are still in need of additional cash sponsors, and speaking with past sponsors as well as some potential sponsors, we are confident they will come on board and make Gosplash the usual success it has been since its inception in 2013.

CUJ Gosplash 2016 is a family event filled with lots of fun, games, activities, and giveaways from sponsors coupled with a star, studded gospel concert with Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, arranger, producer, pastor, actor, and the star of Oxygen network’s popular reality series Preachers of L.A, Deitrick haddon, as the headline act. He will be joined by some of Jamaica’s top gospel artistes.

Other sponsors include RJR Communications Group, iCool, KIA Motors, Courts Optical, Courts Ready Cash, Love FM, TBC Radio, and The Portmore Municipal Council.

As is the case last year, part proceeds from CUJ GOSPLASH 2016 will go towards the Braeton Primary and Junior High School computer lab.

The Gleaner – April 22, 2016