Lascelles Credit Union Child’s Month Video Competition

Lascelles Employees & Partners Co-operative Credit Union strongly believes in the importance of thriftiness among our members and by extension our future generation. As part of our Child Month initiative, LEPCCU decided to give our Child Savers the opportunity to freely express themselves by submitting a video explaining the importance of saving.

\To say that our little savers were excited to be a part of this venture is an understatement. Participants were judged based on factual content, creativity, expression and popular vote.

We received overwhelming responses but was only able to chose a first and second place winner. 1st place winner Drei-Anah Brown received a Samsung Galaxy 8” tablet, while 2nd place winner Xandre Scott was awarded a book voucher courtesy of Kingston Bookshop.

LEPCCU remains steadfast in our efforts to supporting the financial wellness of our members and youth savers alike.

Credit Union League Gives J$4 Million to COVID-19 Telethon

The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, has received the symbolic cheque of the generous contribution of the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League to Telethon Jamaica: Together We Stand.

Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League has contributed J$4 million to the telethon which raised funds to provide Jamaica’s frontline workers with equipment to battle COVID-19.

Minister Grange, who led the team that organised the telethon, received the symbolic cheque from the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League, Mr Robin Levy on Tuesday.

Minister Grange said:
“I wish to thank the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League for this great display of generosity. This is a real example of people helping people. Your donation of J$4 million is going a long way in helping Jamaica to battle the COVID-19 Pandemic by helping to provide much needed Personal Protective Equipment for our frontline workers.”

The Group Marketing and Communications Manager of the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League, Ms Claudette Christie, said credit unions will continue to “work cooperatively with agencies as together we fight this dreaded virus.”

Ms Christie said:
Our credit union mantra is ‘people helping people’. This is not only true of the services that members pool their resources to provide each other. It is also true of the way we treat with our Jamaican brothers and sisters. That is why we have joined with Telethon Jamaica to assist in this fight against COVID-19 to provide well needed PPEs for health personnel and the security forces at the forefront of the fight. Our care is demonstrated in our donation of J$4M towards the fund.”

Minister Grange thanked all those across the world who have contributed to Telethon Jamaica: Together We Stand which has so far raised more than J$50 million.

The Minister said people can still contribute to the fund at or

To donate by telephone, call 888-729-2455 (toll free), 876-960-9635, 1-866-228-8393 (toll free from Jamaica, the United States or Canada) or +44 0808 189 6147 (toll free from UK and Europe); or WhatsApp 876-550-1754.

Cash and cheque donations are being accepted at any Paymaster location in Jamaica or any branch of Citibank to account number 9250709218 (outside of Jamaica).

Contributions to Telethon Jamaica: Together We Stand go directly to a fund — managed by the charity, Jamaica’s Promise — to purchase Personal Protective Equipment, testing kits, ventilators and other equipment needed to strengthen the response to COVID-19.

COVID-19 Latest: Travel Restrictions, Possible School Closures, More Testing

Gladstone Taylor's photo of Prime Minister Andrew Holness
Prime Minister Andrew Holness … has reiterated that personal contact should be avoided as much as possible and has urged people to practise proper hygiene – Gladstone Taylor photo

Prime Minister Andrew Holness … has reiterated that personal contact should be avoided as much as possible and has urged people to practise proper hygiene – Gladstone Taylor photo  

Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Wednesday evening declared that the Government could close schools as it moves to contain the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

But according to the Prime Minister, although a protocol has been agreed, schools should remain open until further advised.

Holness with support from the Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton and the Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie held a press conference at Jamaica House.

Here are the major points:

Holness said the Government has developed a protocol should it be necessary to close schools. However, he said the protocols still need further consultation so intuitions have not yet received a directive to close their doors.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness says all passengers who were on the British Airways flight BA2263 from London on March 4, 2020 should call 888 ONE LOVE (663 5683). That was the flight on which the first patient to test positive for the  Coronavirus travelled to Jamaica.

According to Chief Medical Officer Dr Jaquiline Basasor McKenzie, since January 23, some 260 persons, coming into the country, were designated as persons of interest because of previous travel to a destination where the COVID-19 is prevalent. They were all seen by health officials. Of that number 65 were not landed; 130 were sent home to be monitored at their. Of those persons, only eight have not yet completed their 14 days of quarantine.

Meanwhile, 38 persons remain in quarantine facilities because of an identified higher risk or they did not have suitable conditions to be monitored at home. Two persons are being monitored in hotels. Seven persons are now in isolation, including the two women who tested positive for COVID-19. By Thursday, the result of the other five persons should be known.

The Government is actively reviewing the extent of travel restrictions to the United Kingdom. According to the Prime Minister, in short order there should be more declarations. He said during discussions in the Cabinet, it was agreed that while it is of great importance, he does not want to act prematurely in imposing a travel ban on the country.

Holness said where the law requires, the granting of permit for a gathering, no permit will be issued within the next 14 days. He said permits that were already issued will be rescinded and revoked.  Tufton: We want to go through the Coronavirus cycle quickly. Once there is internal spread, over 1 million people will be affected. If the model plays out as expected, there will be hospitalisations but only a fraction of patients will need hospitalisation.

Businesses that are having meetings, weddings, church services and funerals are being asked to follow the protocols that have been established for personal care and hygiene. Prime Minister Holness has reiterated that personal contact should be avoided as much as possible. He said while Jamaica is yet at the point to enforce a halt, citizens should use their own discretion.

What is a Credit Score?

A credit score is a number assigned by a computer matrix that summarizes the histori-cal credit information on a credit report. It converts qualitative data into a numerical score. This number represents the risk asso-ciated with extending credit to an applicant an applicant based on their credit history.

Credit Union League to use Foundation to encourage philanthropic efforts

Stepping into the role of head of the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League (JCCUL) not only requires having the support of the team to lead the movement in this new area of financial technology and demand from inclusion of the unbanked, but Robin Levy has been tasked with charting a new vision for the league’s charitable arm.

Levy has a simple strategy – use the existing vision of the credit union to guide its members to help needy Jamaicans.

With more than 1.02 million members, that is a formidable resource to provide service to the entire island. Levy shares that the JCCUL Foundation will be reaching out through its members to determine the best way to have the biggest impact in the various communities that they serve.

“Credit unions have a motto ‘Not for profit, not for charity, but for service’,” Levy explains. “Ideally what you’d want is every organisation in Jamaica, every household in Jamaica, is to understand that they have a responsibility for the less fortunate in the society – those who do need that assistance. And then we’d build strategies around that, where we can do the most good, and in the most sustainable way.”

The league is the umbrella organisation for the 28 credit unions around the country, and Levy points out: “Credit unions are always ready to assist people who need help. Financially, specifically, because we’re a financial organisation. But every credit union needs to determine for itself how it is going to do what it wants to do. But we do provide one collective entity, and the idea with this entity is to have a strategy so that our corporate social responsibility is carried out in line with our mission and our vision for the entire movement.”

The credit union has a long history in Jamaica, and while each credit union can reach out to assist in their respective communities, the JCCUL is the national voice. Levy intends to use that influence to demonstrate the power of the league’s democratic principles.

“You have to remember that other financial institutions are for profit. The movement is about returning profits to our members in the form of dividends and services. And part of that service is helping to uplift members of the community who are in need.”

Levy believes that when the credit union acts in unison to impact Jamaica, that impact should be felt in a big way. He points out that one of the major ways that credit unions can make social changes is by helping foundations and other charitable organisations become more modern in their business approach and sustainable in their business practices.

Rather than live off one grant and hope for the next, Levy believes that the credit union movement can guide these entities into long-term positive impact.

That means moving from begging for charity to generating revenue to have funding for the target groups.

Levy explains: “In the same way that our country couldn’t continue begging, we had to effectively grow our economy enough so that we can sustain ourselves. Charities have to develop revenue-generating arms. They have to build trust funds large enough so that they can live off the interest of their investments. They have to do these things to make sure that they continue [to exist] and continue to serve.”

The credit unions are ready to offer consultations on this.

“And I’m speaking for my credit union managers, but I’m sure they would agree with me that we are ready to offer consultations in terms of how to be business-minded. We could open accounts for persons who are on the credit… offer investment advice. We have many licensed investment advisers in the movement who can assist with this.”

Read more:


Wynter dismisses claims central bank has depreciation policy

Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) Governor Brian Wynter has rubbished arguments put forward by some economists of a central bank depreciation policy that, they claim, places Jamaica in a worse-off economic state by allowing the local currency to reach its fair value.

“First, let me say this, the central bank does not have a depreciation policy. The Government’s policy, which is the policy we operate, is for there to be a flexible market-determined exchange rate, which means that the price of the US dollar will change based on supply and demand conditions like any other good,” Wynter said.

He was speaking at the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Conversation on Wednesday at Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.

In July, BOJ introduced the Foreign Exchange Intervention Tool (BFXITT) as a new system to facilitate the buying and selling of foreign exchange. It is aimed at levelling the playing field for all market participants by being a competitive multiple-price tool and has been touted by some as the reason for depreciations in the local currency.

In fact, some economists consider the system to be predictable, which, in the case of heavy market demand and limited supply, drives the rates higher and at a faster pace of devaluation. The background noise is that the system has been introduced with insufficient supply and a guarantee of selling to the highest bidder, both of which lead to a one-way bet.

But the governor argued that the market has clearly moved away from a chronic one-way system to a more normal and flexible market that is characterised by two-way movements.

Up until Friday, Jamaica had experienced appreciation in its local currency for 10 consecutive days. Wynter, in further defending the new system, said for the 12 months to October 13 the exchange rate had appreciated by .04 per cent, compared with a depreciation of 7.7 per cent for the same period a year earlier.

Still, investment strategists hold that the increase in local currency was due to a one-time event involving the portfolio repositioning of a financial institution which sold large quantities of currency to the market.

“We know that Jamaica has postponed adjustments in the exchange rate in the past. It has done so by borrowing the money that it needs to make up the shortfall, but we need only glance at our history or study the current experience of some of our neighbours to remind us of the consequences of trying to dictate an exchange rate that is at odds with underlined economics or market conditions,” the governor said.

He added that while there is no debate that depreciation benefits exporters and hurts importers, if a larger proportion of businesses in the economy are importers then, certainly, business in the country will at first suffer when depreciation occurs.

“Improvement for business comes later from a change in behaviour that leads to a reduction in the proportion of import-dependent businesses,” he said.

Wynter noted that numerous media reports have suggested that the change in behaviour has already occurred, as businesses that were once uncompetitive are now able to produce profitably for the domestic market or penetrate export markets. He contended that some have even replaced foreign inputs with local substitutes, or in some cases, import raw materials and finish the goods locally before using those goods in productive processes.

“Those companies must have contributed to the more than 30,000 net new jobs created last year and more than 20,000 created this year. Therefore, for the first time in our independent history we can sustainably earn enough to pay our bills instead of perpetually borrowing money,” he reasoned.

“If we are seeing high quality export in goods and services and competitive import substitutions, then do you think it’s working? We are partners and stakeholders in this transformation and therefore we must be careful of the messages that we send. We need to have frank and open dialogue of where we are, where we are going, how we are going to get there, the remaining challenges we face and how we are going to address them,” the governor warned.

He reckoned that what has distinguished economic management for the last two years, compared to the periods before, has been the genuine participation of our stakeholders in the dialogue which will also create the atmosphere for the country’s success going forward.

“The central bank remains committed to consulting with you,” Wynter said.

Credit union reform takes a different turn

The reform of the credit union market has taken a new turn with regulators having agreed that the movement needs to be codified under its own statute.

It comes 18 years into consultations that have been underpinned by a strategy of devising regulations for the sector under the current banking laws, and was the basis on which the credit unions had been restructuring their operations over the years.

That remained the expectation up to January of this year, when the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League (JCCUL), the umbrella unit for the movement, was saying it expected that finally the community banks would have transitioned to central bank oversight in June.

But now JCCUL General Manager Glenworth Francis says the authorities have finally been convinced, after nearly two decades, that they were taking the wrong approach and have agreed to the drafting of a statue for the movement.

“We said it from the beginning,” Francis declared, noting that it was one of their recommendations when formal negotiations began back in 2000 to transition the credit unions to central bank oversight.

He said it was always their position that the proposed regulations would interfere down the line with the Co-operative Societies Act, the main piece of enabling legislation for credit unions.

“The truth is that a number of areas of the Co-operative Societies Act were being subsumed by the proposed regulations. I can’t see where it is possible that a set of regulations can supersede an act,” Francis told the Financial Gleaner.

Responses to requests for comment from monetary authority and regulator Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) on why they agreed to changing legislative tactics did not arrive in time for publication. In January, BOJ Deputy Governor Maurene Simms had said regulations to govern the credit unions would have been issued pursuant to Section 34F of the Bank of Jamaica Act.

Credit unions were gazetted as ‘Special Deposit Taking Institutions’ in July 1999 by then Finance Minister Dr Omar Davies, paving the way for the reforms and transition to Bank of Jamaica oversight. Deposit-taking institutions is the broad categorisation for the different types of banking outfits supervised by BOJ.

The new law is expected to be called the Credit Union Act. Francis says the agreed regulations have gone back to the parliamentary draughtsman to be converted to statute with its own regulations.

The legislative process is expected to be finalised by year end, while implementation of the new law will extend into next year, according to Francis. It means the long-standing head of JCCUL won’t get to see the reforms completed before his retirement, scheduled for the end of 2017.

“We know that March of 2018 is the deadline for implementation of the new regime,” he told the Financial Gleaner. “I would therefore want to feel that very soon, we should have a draft for review before it goes to Parliament so that it can be passed before the year is ended.”

JCCUL has been the de facto regulator of the movement since its establishment in 1942. Part of that function included the creation of a stabilisation fund, the Stab Fund, in 1962, used to rescue or cushion faltering credit unions. Francis was not prepared to disclose the current value of the fund.

However, once credit unions transition to BOJ supervision, they are eligible for participation in the insurance scheme for banks operated by Jamaica Deposit Insurance Corporation (JDIC).

Francis says JCCUL has not yet decided what will become of the stabilisation fund after the transition.

“The Stab Fund is there,” he said. “The JDIC will provide insurance coverage. The credit union movement is yet to decide how the fund will be treated afterwards.”

He agreed that one possibility would be for some of the money in the Stab Fund to be used to prepay premiums on deposit insurance on behalf of credit unions.

Over the years since the reform programme began, the credit union movement has shrunk from 43 to 30, after a series of mergers meant to shore up capital bases to more align with the BOJ’s requirements.

Some of the concessions negotiated by JCCUL included guarantees about capital formation, and the lifting of the 10 per cent limit on secured loans.

Once legislation is passed, the BOJ will move next to licensing the credit unions. Simms previously said JDIC membership was a condition of licensing.

The credit union movement has a membership base of under one million, whose savings are estimated at $78 billion amid total assets of $100 billion up to July of this year. The community banks manage a loan pool valued at $69 billion.

Published:Friday | September 1, 2017 | 9:00 AM Neville Graham

Debt as a tool for building wealth

WarrenBuffet, the world’s successful investor, has famously said that in pursuit of wealth we should always try to avoid borrowing. But for the average person, is this realistic?

Without borrowing, how could many of us afford to buy a house, a car and other assets with our own cash while also ensuring that we have enough savings to cover any eventualities such as illness, or to ensure that we have enough cash saved for our retirement? For most of us, debt is a necessary tool to help us acquire basic assets.

Michael Lee-Chin, in an interview with Forbes magazine, has posited that one of the many ways billionaires acquire wealth is to “use other people’s money”. It so happens that getting a loan from a financial institution is essentially a way of using other people’s money. The key to borrowing is to make sure you do so responsibly by actively employing another one of Warren Buffet’s investment tenets: “Never lose money.”

If you are going to take a loan, I find that it helps to use the following guidelines to determine whether this loan will actually be beneficial in helping to achieve your long-term goals, including wealth generation and planning for retirement:

1) What is the purpose?

If you are going to borrow, you must think seriously about what the loan is being used for. Ideally, if you are paying interest on borrowed funds, it should be in pursuit of acquiring an appreciating asset. In other words, funds you borrow should be used to purchase or invest in something that will increase in value over time.

If, for some reason, your loan is being used to buy a depreciating asset such as a car, you should consider the long-term value that it will bring to your life. Will it enable you to get a better job, improve or increase your income opportunities, or improve your standard of living in a quantifiable way?

2) Earn more interest than you pay

Now that you have ensured that you are borrowing for the right reasons, you need to ensure that your loan makes financial sense in the big picture of your long-term financial goals. When you borrow, you pay interest to your creditor. Which means that even though you are well on your way to owning a valuable asset, you will be losing cash while making your loan payments to your creditor. The cash you will lose while repaying a loan will be significantly higher than the original cost of the asset itself. That is, you will inevitably pay your creditor a lot more than you originally borrowed.

Therefore, when borrowing you should:

*Ensure that after your loan payments you will still have disposable income for saving or investment.

*Find investment options that will give you a higher return on your investment than it will cost you to borrow. For example, if you can borrow at 10 per cent but invest at 11 per cent or more, then you will earn net income that will help you to efficiently build wealth over time.

3) Earn positive cash flow

Another option for building wealth with debt is to ensure that your debt helps you to earn positive cash flow. That means you should be earning more cash from your assets or investments than you are paying out to the bank.

The method to achieve this is much more simple, but may be slightly more elusive for some borrowers. This option involves borrowing to purchase an asset that will generate cash flow such as rental property, investment in a company, or purchase of bonds or dividend paying stock.

This is one of the central investment tenets of the book Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. This philosophy is simple: Only borrow if it will help you to earn more money. For many of us this is challenging, as the biggest loans we have are usually for the car we drive to work and the house we live in – neither of which tends to generate cash. If, however, you are able to leverage those assets to generate cash which can then be reinvested, you would be well on your way to building sustainable wealth


With interest rates in Jamaica being the lowest they have been in many years, and competition between banks at an all-time high, it is easier than ever to get credit. Banks are basically begging you to borrow. They entice you by lowering fees and offering you unsecured loans and credit cards, pre-approved of course, so that way you don’t have to go through all the usual hassle of trying to get a loan.

As consumers this is great for us, because that means we have power in the market.

On the other hand, we must be careful of how we accept these offers and how we use borrowed funds. Unsecured debt and credit cards carry the highest interest rates in the market. They should not be taken lightly or used frivolously. Unsecured debt must always be used in accordance with rules 1, 2 and 3 above.

Needless to say, there are several other considerations to make when borrowing or investing that will be discussed in future columns. For most of us, borrowing is inevitable. However, if we try to consistently apply the rules above, then borrowing can be a great tool for building wealth instead of being a financial burden.

Claudja Williams works as a consumer advocate in the financial sector. The views expressed are her own.

Lascelles, Nestle credit unions merge to form billion-dollar outfit

The Lascelles Employees & Partners Co-operative Credit Union (LEPCCU) and the Nestle Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union (NJCCU) have combined their operations.

The ‘transfer of engagement’ from NJCCU to Lascelles was approved on September 30.

The merged business will continue to operate as Lascelles Employees & Partners from two branches – the head office in Kingston and the other at the Bybrook Condensery in Bog Walk, St Catherine.

General Manager of LEPCCU Sherie Nash-Seymour told the Financial Gleaner that the entities merged “to benefit from an increased capital and asset base, economies of scale, to address regulatory challenges and to widen the membership base”.

She said the credit unions’ bond has been opened to include a much wider cross section of past and present members from companies aligned with J. Wray & Nephew Limited.

Under the merger, the union now holds assets of $1.05 billion, to which Nestle contributed $107 million. Its loan book is valued at $740 million, less than a tenth or $62 million of which was contributed by Nestle.

The staff and management teams remain intact.

“Prior to the merger, Nestle operated with a very small staff complement, which will be transitioned accordingly,” Nash-Seymour said

She said the merger makes available to all members – including previous members of Nestle Jamaica Credit Union – a wider cross section of products and services that includes online banking, high-yielding investments and more affordable loans”.

That was echoed by treasurer of Nestle, Richard Hutchinson.

“This would also include former members, who were not able to maintain their membership status as a result of discontinued employment with Nestle, being able to renew their status as members under the merged entity,” Hutchinson said via email.

Nestle’s service was predominantly geared towards Nestle Jamaica employees, but last year, the Swiss-owned company sold its production operations to Musson Jamaica.

Lascelles Employees & Partners catered to mainly employees of the Lascelles deMercado group, which was renamed J. Wray & Nephew Limited after its acquisition by Campari Group of Italy in 2012. The new bond will cater to core employees as well as industry members.

The merged entity has approximately 5,000 members, of which Nestle contributed 200.

Nash-Seymour said there are no immediate plans to rebrand, although she noted, “the possibility does exist that rebranding may occur as the entity continues to grow from its operations or through other mergers.

Lascelles Employees & Partners will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in September 2018, while Nestle turned 60 this year.

“Combined, we have more than 100 years of experience in service to offer our membership,” the general manager said.

Credit Unions of Jamaica committed to Gosplash

Along with providing a path for financial freedom, the Credit Unions of Jamaica (CUJ) brand is also in support of wholesome entertainment, and it’s against that backdrop that the CUJ is back this year as the title sponsor of Gosplash.

This commitment was confirmed on Monday, April 11, with the signing of the sponsorship agreement, which took place at the offices of the Jamaica Cooperative Credit Union League in Kingston.

“This is our third consecutive year as a sponsor of Gosplash and our second year as title sponsor. We’re back in a bigger way as we’ve received significant benefits from this partnership,” said Claudette Christie, communications manager of the Jamaica Cooperative Credit Union League, the umbrella organisation for credit unions.


“The CUJ brand is not new to this kind of partnership. Gosplash is family focused by way of providing wholesome entertainment, and this fits into the mission and vision of the movement,” Christie continued.

Now in its fourth staging, CUJ Gosplash is the ultimate beach family fun day and gospel concert held annually on Emancipation Day, August 1, at Sugarman Beach in Hellshire, St Catherine.

“In this harsh economic climate, it’s very challenging to cover costs associated with producing an event of top-class quality, so my sponsors play a vital role in this regard. “ACTION Entertainment is very grateful and humbled to have as sponsors and partners, the CUJ,” said the title sponsor of Gosplash 2016,” Markland ‘Action’ Edwards, managing director of the company.

“We are still in need of additional cash sponsors, and speaking with past sponsors as well as some potential sponsors, we are confident they will come on board and make Gosplash the usual success it has been since its inception in 2013.

CUJ Gosplash 2016 is a family event filled with lots of fun, games, activities, and giveaways from sponsors coupled with a star, studded gospel concert with Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, arranger, producer, pastor, actor, and the star of Oxygen network’s popular reality series Preachers of L.A, Deitrick haddon, as the headline act. He will be joined by some of Jamaica’s top gospel artistes.

Other sponsors include RJR Communications Group, iCool, KIA Motors, Courts Optical, Courts Ready Cash, Love FM, TBC Radio, and The Portmore Municipal Council.

As is the case last year, part proceeds from CUJ GOSPLASH 2016 will go towards the Braeton Primary and Junior High School computer lab.

The Gleaner – April 22, 2016