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Apr 27, 2006

H.R.C.U.:2005 was an active but challenging year

Story PictureThe Holy Redeemer Credit Union boasts a membership of almost forty thousand Belizeans and assets of more than two hundred and forty million dollars. But even with those impressive figures, the country’s favourite financial institution is feeling the pinch of the reality of life in Belize. News Five’s Kendra Griffith reports.

Kendra Griffith, Reporting
As hundreds gathered to listen to the financial report of the Holy Redeemer Credit Union, it was left to Jane Usher to explain the challenges of the past year.

Miss Jane Usher, Treasurer, H.R.C.U.
?We got the shock of our lives. When we were in the throes?the country was in an upset and we got the call that we had to return six million to CUNA Mutual because they were afraid of the devaluation of the dollar. Well we just couldn?t do it in one [lump sum], so to give it back, we made a promise to them that we will give it to them in three years.?

According to H.R.C.U. president Karl Menzies, the money was being used by the union to help meet the demands of the mortgage lending programme and the paying it back will hurt H.R.C.U.?s bottom line.

Karl H. Menzies, President, H.R.C.U.
?This repatriation of just about two million dollars to date, about one third of the funds we hold for CUNA Mutual, together with unusual savings withdrawals, has adversely affected our asset growth rate, which for the first time in recent history has fallen below double digit amounts. Over the next two year as we continue this repatriation process we will continue the slowing down of out asset growth rate.?

That growth rate for 2004-2005 was calculated at ten point nine percent. Menzies hopes the influx of new members will help to mitigate the effects of CUNA?s withdrawal.

Karl H. Menzies
?At March thirty-first 2006, assets totalled two hundred and forty-one point three million, an increase of five point ninety-eight percent. Membership has now reached thirty-eight thousand seven hundred and fifty-four, a net increase of three point three percent.?

But not all the news at the A.G.M. was bad.

Karl H. Menzies
?Our gross profit has reached twenty-three point zero million and expenses total five point three million, leaving a net profit of seventeen point seven million. From this business conducted during the financial year, your directors are recommended a dividend rate and seven point five percent, and an interest rebate rate of ten percent to all members with loans in good standing.?

And while it was a good year financially, malpagos beware.

Marion Marsden, Member Credit Committee
?So often we hear them say, we don?t have to worry about paying our credit union as promised, but we must pay other financial institutions. Because they will sell out houses and reposes our chattels. When we stop to think about this statement we realize this is sad but true. Quite often when we make contact with a member who has not been paying for some time the typical excuse is always they are paying another lending institution or settling a bill at the store that sells furnitures and appliances. There is no immediate commitment to their credit union for the credit union can wait until the other bills are settled, and guess what, where is the first place they will turn to when nobody else wants to give them credit? Of course, their credit union.?

Karl H. Menzies
?Tonight with much effort and serious hard work we have reduce delinquency to twelve point four percent even before we factor in cash securities and other collateral and mortgages. This was no easy task and we ought to commend the efforts of the newly established Delinquency Control Department. There are some of you who can but still refuse to pay … rest assured that we are coming after you much sooner than you expect.?

Today the Holy Redeemer Credit Union is the largest in the country with new accounts popping up everywhere, especially in the south, prompting management to think about branching out.

Miss Jane Usher, Treasurer, H.R.C.U.
?We have found out very amazingly that we have over two thousand five hundred members there. They have in savings over two point five million dollars and they have loaned themselves a little under two point four million. So that leaves us to believe that perhaps the board should look into making Holy Redeemer have its first branch. We never wanted it, but maybe because now we are serving in that area, I can call the villages that we serve. We serve Mango Creek and Independence, Seine Bight, Placencia, Silk Grass, Red Bank, Bella Vista, San Juan, Monkey River, Cow Pen and all the banana farms. So maybe we will have to open our first branch.?

During last night?s meeting, Miss Jane was also recognised for her historic fifty years as H.R.C.U.?s Treasurer. Also receiving recognition was the Credit Committee, whose cumulative years of service number ninety-seven years. Kendra Griffith reporting for News Five.

Miss Jane, H.R.C.U. director Ernesto Vasquez, and the Credit Committee of Raymond Barrow, Joan Waight, and Marion Marsden were all re-elected to their posts.

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