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City of Banjul
Wednesday, October 21, 2020

GTU president says credit union pulls thousands out of poverty

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Martin Gomez said the credit union had since inception in 1997 lifted thousands of teachers out of hunger and poverty.

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“There is still a long way to go, but we are a special people because we have come this far and have achieved so much in only nineteen years,” he said. 

Mr Gomez made these remarks on Saturday at Paradise Suites Hotel where the GTUCCU held its 18th annual general meeting on the theme: ‘credit unions – our pathway to economic independence’.

The GTUCCU is a leading professional credit union – the biggest in the country and if the accounts of the authorities are anything to go by, the credit union for teachers is in a state of buoyancy. 

Mr Baboucarr Joof, the general manager, said: “The last three years saw our acute involvement in procuring and servicing plots of land for purposefully distributing them to our vulnerable members. The two pieces of land have been cleared and demarcation on the way. With or without our investors in the immediate future the plots will be distributed to applicants. That way we will unlock the capital locked on the land.

“Management continues to support staff professional development combined with appropriate human resources polices to motivate them to become productive as well as retain those with potential to add value to GTUCCU.”

 

Joof, however, pointed out that all is not rosy at the credit union. He said the coordination of the regions and paying state salaries to their members have placed a host of challenges on their resources. 

He added: “The board will bring in two new vehicles to be paid for by benefits accruing from our management of institutional resources over time. This welcome new revenue stream will be capable over time of financing the purchases.

“Despite all the achievements, the institution is faced with difficulties, such as the deduction of members since the migration of the accountant general to a new operating platform in 2013. We constantly experienced unauthorised stoppages and delays in deduction over- deductions.

“Our five regional offices are operational, but we need more conducive space in Basse and Soma urgently to give our members a dignified space to be served and our brand and images shall receive a boost in this congested microfinance environment.”

Giving an account of the financial status of the credit union, Ms Haddy Njie, treasurer of GTUCCU, said the balance sheet for the year ended 31st December 2014 shows an increase in net asset by 1.5 million dalasis – from D15, 170,126 to D16, 729,719. 

She added: “Our accumulated fixed deposit investment with various banks as well as on the consumer project dropped from D26, 891,566 to D24, 556,098 due to the decision by management to reduce investment with Access Bank, coupled with all consumer motor bikes being issued to qualified beneficiaries during the transition to 2015.

”Our current assets, apart from investments, have significantly increased from D162,917,226 in 2013 to D185,147,417 in 2014, There is a slight growth in our loan book as management is employing all measures to control loans issued considering the ability to repay and the debtors for consumer motor bikes have risen by more than 50% from the previous year

“In the balance sheet, members shares and savings have increased from D22,978,800 to D30,929,400 and from D159,216,940 to D178,502,189, respectively, while affirming that their operational income increased by 31 per cent – from  D23,300,543 to D30,627,749.

“Our total expenditure has increased from D21,888,030 in 2013 to D28, 834,006 in 2014. We are still expanding and restructuring the union to become more accessible and vibrant.”

 

Also speaking, the chairman of the Board of Directors, Edrissa Bojang, said the membership growth continued to benefit from the boom in teacher training at Gambia College School of education.

He explained: “Three years ago, we were engaging students newly enrolled at the college and about one thousand newly qualified teachers of all categories joined our ranks and those newly celebrated teachers were given the unique chance of what some of us did not enjoy after qualifying – access to loans before going on postings.”

Bojang hailed their collaboration with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education through which they were mandated to pay salaries, including hardship allowances, double shift allowances, wages, and allowances to volunteers and stipends to student teachers.

The programme manager at National Cooperative Credit Union Gambia, NACCUG, Hamby B Jawara, said that credit union movement in The Gambia is steadily growing in membership, savings and loans.

“As at end December 2014, the total membership from 80 credit unions across the country stood at 64,561 whereas saving and loans were D672, 000,000 and 495,000,000, respectively.”

Jawara said the GTUCCU alone represents 28 per cent of the total membership and savings, making it the largest such body in the country. 

Momodou Lamin Touray, registrar of cooperative said the credit union have helped people to pay school fees for their children and build new houses while disclosing there was a surplus margin of 25 per cent compared to the previous year

“In the credit union everybody has a say irrespective of who saves much or less,” he said.

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