Credit unions – Profitably! Safely! Humanly!"
This was the motto of the 19th National Conference of the Cooperative Savings and Credit Unions, held on 13-14 June 2011. This time it was Wroclaw that hosted the conference participants. The two-day conference included meetings preceded by Mass celebrated by Bishop Ignacy Dec of Swidnica. The homily was delivered by Msgr. Ireneusz Skubis, the editor-in-chief of the Catholic Weekly ‘Niedziela.’ He stressed the significance of charismas of those who help others. He enthusiastically spoke about the possibility of ‘seeking ways leading to the beatification of Franciszek Stefczyk.’ Since Stefczyk had a charisma of dealing with people’s affairs. He was a man that showed that the economic culture could be also a Christian culture. These activities should follow the laws of the Gospel: honesty, reliability and first of all, love. ‘And the members of the credit unions are those who know, following the model of their patron Franciszek Stefczyk, that they should help people and do good. Thus they participate in the great event of Cana of Galilee: help in ordinary matters,’ the preacher said. The annual meetings of the credit unions are occasions to summarise their activities and establish future tasks. Certainly, the numbers are impressive: a 30% increase in the number of individual deposits, a 15% increase in consumer’s loans. Thanks to the system of saving conducted by the credit unions their members have earned 340 million zloty more than if they put the money in banks. The system of cooperative movement in the decade of crisis fulfils its role thanks to independence and collaboration. As in his programme speech Grzegorz Bierecki, President of the National Association of. Cooperative Savings and Credit Unions, said the institution of credit union constantly experienced attempts on those values, especially its autonomy. The recent examples include: the controversial bill concerning credit unions, which was passed in the Parliament by the votes of the ruling coalition (the late President Lech Kaczynski pointed to its discrepancy between the text of the bill and the Polish Constitution in 73 paragraphs when he directed the project of the bill to the Constitutional Tribunal), journalists’ lies or attacks on the credit union in Wroclaw. All these activities show a desire of the state to increase its influence on the system of the credit unions and this contradicts its autonomy thanks to which the cooperative movement has successes. The most important role of the state in this case is expressed by the maxim ‘Primum non nocere’ – First, do not harm! quoted by Ryszard Czarnecki, MEP, who participated in the conference.
The meeting included the presentation of the latest channels of distribution of individual insurance within the system of credit unions that help reach the widest circles of Poles. Traditionally, the conference was an occasion to appreciate the merits of those who spread and realise the idea of cooperative movement and work for the Polish credit unions. This year the statuettes of ‘Feniks’ in the category ‘The manager of the year’ was given to Mariusz Gazda, the chairman of the Board in Wolomin, and to Grzegorz Tobiszewski, an MP of the Law and Justice Party, and to Tomasz Sakiewicz, the editor-in-chief of ‘Gazeta Polska,’ for their promotions of the idea of credit unions.
The meeting of over 500 participants, delegates of all Cooperative Savings and Credit Unions, united around the ideals realised by Dr. Franciszek Stefczyk, gives hope that rational concern for common good and fair multiplication of means for living in accordance with the cooperative model will be promoted successfully, giving people a sense of financial safety. May the state that should serve its citizens give ordinary people chances for development.