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 By Chris Mbunwe & Linda Agbor

The Government of Cameroon has assured the Cameroon Cooperative Credit Union League, CamCCUL, of its determination to fight against banditry in the country.
Speaking during the celebration of the International Day of Credit Union, celebrated in Bafoussam on October 18, West Governor, Augustine Awa Fonka, said Government has taken a firm commitment to ensure that all savings in the various credit unions affiliated to CamCCUL are protected from thieves.
Awa Fonka said, following frequent attacks on some credit unions, Government has taken stringent measures to ensure the safety of credit unions because of the socio-economic importance they play in the growth of the economy. 
“We will not condone any form of banditry on credit unions in this country, because, these credit unions are the backbones of our rural and urban communities.  Those who borrow and refuse to pay back because they think they are big people will not go unpunished,” Fonka averred.  
He lamented on the frequent attacks on credit unions and urged their members and CamCCUL officials to remain focused, because, according to him, Government will not relent in protecting them.
He described as unfortunate the present state of affairs in Cameroon today, whereby, some credit unions, motivated by self-interest and the quest for autonomy in leadership, are disaffiliating from CamCCUL. To Fonka, the contemporary, commercial and financial world encourages vertical and horizontal move towards financial integration.
“Let me draw your attention to the fact that, in the business world, growth does not mean dissociation. On the contrary, growth calls for agglomeration of small units, so as to constitute a solid body that would, in tough times, render micro-financial institutions more sustainable, more competitive and enable them excel in risk management.”  
The Governor said the commercial world is highly competitive and gives room for errors. 
“This explains why CamCCUL is regulated by COBAC.  COBAC’s presence has rendered CamCCUL more stable,” said he.
Earlier, in his key note address, the President of CamCCUL, Musa Shey Nfor, said credit unions in Cameroon are proud to celebrate the day, because, “We offer better opportunities to people to get out of poverty.” 
According to him, the theme of this year, “Local Service, Global Goal,” emphasises on the positive impact of credit unions in their communities and around the world. 
“We are proud to be among the 208 million credit union members in 103 countries celebrating this day. The celebration of this day effectively started in 1948 in the United States Credit Union National Association, CUNA. Today, credit union members from Njinikom, Kolofata, Mbalmayo, Guider, Bangou, Victoria, Mbanga, Yaounde, Fonfuka, among others, are all in Bafoussam to celebrate with great joy.”
The CamCCUL President appreciated Government for the security diplomacy used to rescue some Cameroonians, some of whom, he said, were credit union members, from the captivity of Boko Haram.   Shey Nfor thanked the Minister of Finance for encouraging and promoting proximity-microfinance, inclusive finance, the amicable resolution of differences within the CamCCUL network. 
“As we know, unity within a network is not synonymous with absence of differences, but, rather, the presence of a will for dialogue and amicable settlement in the face of such differences,”  he said while thanking the Minister of Agriculture for rural development projects such as; PADMIR, PAPA, PACA, whose key beneficiary, he said, is a partner to CamCCUL.
He, nonetheless, appealed to the Government to put in place “an accelerated, protected and amicable recovery procedure for loans in credit unions.  
“Statistics show that recalcitrant borrowers and media blackmailers are more devastating to society, in general, and credit unions, in particular, than the Ebola virus and AIDs put together.”
“We appeal to the Minister of Finance to kindly design a special tax regime for financial cooperatives which are very essential ingredients and vehicles in achieving President Biya’s 2035 vision of emergence,” Shey Nfor said.
The Government Delegate to the Bafoussam City Council, Emmanuel Nzete, thanked the CamCCUL President for choosing Bafoussam to host the International Credit Unions Day, saying it will go a long way to boost the economy and attract more divisions in creating microfinance organisations and affiliating them to CamCCUL.  He said CamCCUL remains the best network in the West Region because the people believe in the products and benefits derived from credit unions.  

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