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KILARNEY, Ireland -Dennis Dollar is accustomed to speaking to credit union audiences in the U.S. about regulations and the regulatory environment. Speaking to delegates from 30 different countries at the World Council of Credit Union’s 2001 Internetional Conference and Annual Meeting, the acting NCUA chairman had the opportunity to explain his philosophy that the American model of regulation doesn’t fit all countries. Dollar made it clear to the audience that regulations were necessary, but what he deplores is unnecessary regulation. He defined unnecessary regulation as that which hampers players from moving up and down the field as needed. He felt rules were necessary, but only to a point where the offensive is left to lead, the defensive can defend, and all can decide to do the actions as necessary. Dollar cited the referee-type thinking of former NCUA Chairman Ed Callahan, who in 1982, expanded the common bond to allow mutli-groups. That meant, Dollar said, that small businesses that had employees that would otherwise never be able to join a credit union, had the chance to take advantage of credit union membership. Obstacles need to be removed. Dollar cited the case of a credit union in Louisiana with a Camel 1 rating, top notch financials, and assets of 4.9%. They wanted to open a branch in a undesirable area of town, but if they did their assets would exceed the 5% limit under NCUA regulations. That type of regulation, Dollar said, needs to be tempered with common sense. The credit union was limited, despite having the resources, to help a poor section of their community. In the end, the credit union was able to apply for an exemption and it was granted. Dollar asserted that he is not anti regulation. “There needs to be rules to enforce integrity.” He was quick to point out that a football game with both coaches and referees can fill Wembley Stadium. However, he added, a sandlot football game cannot even draw a crowd on a play ground. “People want to know that there are rules and those rules will be followed,” he said. Dollar said he was aware that in many countries there is a tendency to have one regulatory agency. He does not feel that would work in the U.S. because of the special nature of credit unions there, but that it might work better in other countries. “There is a natural tension between the regulator and the regulated that is healthy,” he said. He qualified the word healthy as being when both the regulator and the regulated listen and hear what the other is saying, to work together to shape regulations to maintain integrity. He believes that credit union players should have the freedom to move on the field in the current demanding competitive environment, to be allowed to keep the heartbeat that makes credit unions what they are, while still insuring their safety and soundness to all concerned. [email protected]

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