Report from the ICBA (1997)

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This document has been made available in electronic format
by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
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Dec., 1997
(Source: ICA Review, Vol.90 No.4, 1997, pp.44-45)

Report from the International Co-op Banking Association (ICBA)
by Claude Beland*
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Central Executive Committee meetings took place in Budapest, Hungary
in October 24, 1996 and in Geneva in April 1997.  The main object of
these meetings was to pursue discussions on ICBA status and orientations,
its relations with IRU, and to launch a survey on a descriptive inventory of
co-operative banks worldwide.

A  Plenary Session was held in Budapest in October 1996. On that occasion
an invitation was extended to all co-operators to attend this important
meeting. The theme was "Co-operative banks in the year 2000 as leaders
in building a more equitable society: Keys to success".  Speakers from the
Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe were invited to share their views on this
topic.  The presentations made on that occasion appear  in the eighth edition
of the ICBA Journal.

ICBA Secretariat has carried out a survey on the status and orientation of the
Association.  The survey results were presented  on the occasion of the
Plenary Session, in Budapest (Hungary), in October 1996.  The members
encourage the ICBA to assume a more active role in terms of representation
and the promotion of the unique features of cooperative banks.

Correspondence was exchanged between the ICBA President and Baron
Otto Van Verschuer, as well as Mr. Wim Meijer, respectively Honorary
President and President of the International Raiffeisen Union.

As  President of the ICBA, I have attended, the Fourth Latin America
Financial Convention, which took place 2-4 October 1996, in Panama
City (Panama).  I made a  presentation entitled: "The contribution to the
strengthening of the social economy".

I was also invited, as President of the ICBA, to make a presentation at
the ICA-Americas  "96 Regional Conference", which took place in San
Jose (Costa Rica)  in November 1996. The topic was "DeGlobalization.
Global Challenge - Local Markets".  Interesting exchanges were held with
political and co-operative leaders of this region.  I also attended a meeting
of the ICBA Regional Committee for the Americas, whose chairman is
Mr. Juan Antonio Nino.

Also, I had an opportunity to meet with leaders of the co-operative banking
movement from the Mercosur region, in Uruguay and Argentina.  That
allowed me to make contact with the Regional Committee of ICBA for Latin
America of ICBA, under the chairmanship of Mr. Miguel Cardozo, and
with the Argentina Co-operative Association, chaired by Mr. Ruben E.
Beraja.  On the occasion of that visit to Uruguay I accepted an invitation
to meet with students and other personalities at the BAR-ILAN University
in Buenos Aires (Argentina) on May 2, 1997.  During that same trip, I gave
a lecture entitled "The Globalization and the Local Markets: Co-operative
Banks Strategy", as part of a workshop organized by the ICBA Regional
Commitee for Latin America, held April 29 and 30 in Montevideo,
Uruguay.

These contacts made with cooperative movements in different parts of
the world led to the following findings:

-	a vast majority of banking co-operatives now face major issues
	regarding legislation, taxation and capitalization;

-	due to a lack of adequate tools, banking co-operatives may not take
	advantage of opportunities brought about by the modern context;

-	in a number of countries, the cooperative banking movement can
	rely  on efficient, dedicated leaders.

During the year ahead, the ICBA will continue to offer regional and national
leaders a forum for exchange and networking.  Our association will strive to
support them in promoting and protecting cooperative characteristics.  As
much as members are willing,  we will be analyzing the eventuality of
setting up shared tools for intervention.

We hope that, come next spring, the international directory of co-operative
banks will have been published.  The seminar which most of you will be
attending in a few minutes is also one of this year's major events; the issue
of capitalization is a key to the development of co-operative banks all over
the world.

Finally, allow me to mention the remarkable contribution of our friend Terry
Thomas toward the development of banking co-operatives across the world. 
Let us wish him a happy retirement, one filled with discoveries and new
experiences.

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* Mr. Beland, President of the Confederation des Caisses Populaires et
d'Economie Desjardins du Quebec, reports as Chairman of the International
Co-operative Banking Association.