Minister of Lands and Local Government the Hon. Sidney Collie during his contribution to the 2008/2009 Budget Debate said his Ministry has been allocated a total sum of $40,231,534 for its recurrent expenses for the ensuing fiscal year.

      Mr. Collie said on Monday that this is an increase of approximately $1,600,000.00 over the 2007/2008 recurrent allocation.

      “Of that amount, the sum of $38,110,266.00 will fund the work of the Ministry which includes the departments of Local Government and Co-Operative Development, the Consumer Division and the Mail Boat Service.”

      He added that the remainder will go to the Postal Department.

      Mr. Collie also focused on the growth of Credit Unions in the country, which he said is steady and encouraging.

      He said apart from the very strong position of savings by Credit Unions among the registered credit union, school credit unions are also growing.

      “I am encouraged,” Mr. Collie said, “by the growth of the industry which started some 30 years ago with initial investment of less than $100.00, by the teachers and salaried workers co-operative credit union.

      “The total savings and investment of the Credit Union League now boast a portfolio of well over $200 million.

      The Minister noted however that while credit unions in the country have experienced an amazing growth, co-operatives have seen abysmal decline.

      “The once vibrant farming co-ops of Mayaguana and the very exciting fishing co-op of South Andros among others have all disappeared from the registrar.”

      He said during the upcoming year, the Department’s mandate shall be to find innovative ways to once again ignite the interest of fishing and farming co-ops throughout the country.

      “We will collaborate with and foster renewed relationships with the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources for a way forward in this regard.”

      He explained that the Department has ongoing relationships with the Inter-American Development Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank and the Caribbean Credit Union Association.

      Mr. Collie said these bodies can provide the department with technical assistance, training and on-going advice.