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NASSAU, Bahamas – Credit unions in the Bahamas are now working under a new law, The Co-operative Societies Act, which became law on October 4, 2005, with the regulations and by-laws section having been finalized early this year. The new law and regulations also apply to all producer-supplier co-operatives. The Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions worked with the University of the West Indies to create the original Co-Operative Act of 1990 which acted as a basis for this new law. The goal was to harmonize the Bahamas legislation with that of Belize and other Caribbean states. The Bahamas is considered a stable developing economy that gains about 60% of its gross national product from tourism. Financial services is its second biggest sector representing about 15% of its GNP. There are several changes to the earlier legislation. The new law required all credit unions to keep liquidity funds, development funds and a statutory reserve fund. The funds are there to provide greater deposit protection to members. An “Apex Body” for all co-operatives was created and given the responsibility for the management of the funds. Directors of co-operatives have been made more accountable for their decisions and will receive penalties for improper decisions. The new law establishes a Registered Societies Appeal Tribunal to hear appeals from a decision of the Director of Societies. Both the World Council of Credit Unions and the Canadian Co-operative Association gave input during the creation of the legislation. -

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