WASHINGTON – One day after the NCUA Board approved and posted for comment the first major changes to its member business loan regulation since it was adopted in 1999, NCUA Vice-Chair JoAnn Johnson and SBA officials took the microphone during a CUNA-hosted audio conference on "Member Business Lending and SBA Opportunities" to explain and take questions from CUs about the proposed regulation changes. Johnson emphasized from the outset of the March 28th-audio conference that was moderated by CUNA SVP and Associate General Counsel Mary Dunn, that "member business lending might not be right for every credit union." She added that while the NCUA Board has proposed the changes to the MBL rule, "it still expects credit unions to perform to high standards of business management and safety and soundness. Examiners won't necessarily acquiesce to every credit union that wants to offer member business lending. There will be specific requirements that need to be met." But for those CUs that choose to offer the service, she said credit unions can serve as a valuable source of credit for small business. Johnson, who worked closely with an internal working group to formulate the proposed changes, said the group studied many of the MBL rules that NCUA has approved so far for seven states. "When I saw that these rules didn't sacrifice safety and soundness for the state-chartered credit unions, I decided it was time to revisist the federal member business loan regulation to enhance the rules for federal credit unions while remaining within the confines of safety and soundness." The proposed member business lending rule (CU Times, April 2), is out for a 60-day comment period beginning when the proposed rule is published in the Federal Registered. Johnson said she didn't agree with some of the member business lending limitations Congress imposed on credit unions, and she attributed these limitations to elected officials' lack of awareness of credit unions' involvement with the small business community. "I'm not sure Congress understands how credit unions are serving small businesses' needs," she said. [email protected]

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