SA to set up support agency for co-ops

9 July 2012

The Co-operatives Amendment Bill will lead to the establishment of an agency that will become a one-stop shop for co-operatives, says Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.

“The new bill will result … in the establishment of the Co-operatives Development Agency, which will become a one-stop shop for both financial and non-financial support tailor-made for co-operatives, including administration of incentives, provision of training, and improvement of working conditions in the co-operatives sector,” Davies said on Saturday.

He was speaking at a function marking International Co-operatives Day hosted by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Northern Cape Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism at the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre in Kimberly.

Davies said the amendment Bill, which the department is taking through the Parliamentary process, would go a long way towards improving the sustainability of co-operatives and their contribution to the South African economy.

The setting up of a Co-operatives Tribunal and Co-operatives Advisory Council are also provided for in the Bill.

These proposed institutions were aimed at assisting government to reduce the mortality rate among co-operatives and ensure their sustainability.

“These will ensure that co-operatives take their rightful place and contribute effectively to the country’s economy, as they have the capacity to create jobs and eradicate poverty,” Davies said, while also appealing to the private sector and government to consider procuring goods and services from co-operatives.

According to Wikipedia, a co-operative (or co-op) is an autonomous association of people who voluntarily cooperate for their mutual social, economic, and cultural benefit. They include non-profit community organisations that are owned and managed by the people who use their services (consumer co-operatives) and/or by the people who work there (worker co-operatives).

The director of the International Labour Organisation, Vic van Vuuren, said co-operatives were currently providing employment to over 400-million people worldwide.

The chairperson of the South African chapter of the UN International Year of Co-operatives coordination committee, Wellings Maseko, appealed to all spheres of government to initiate programmes that are aimed at assisting cooperatives to survive.

“The committee has come with numerous proposals that must be implemented in order to reduce the mortality rate of cooperatives from 80% to 20%,” Maseko said.

“These include providing them with skills development and training, designating more products and services that the government and private sector can only procure from them, and working closely with international institutions such as the International Co-operatives Alliance and International Labour Organisation.”

Source: SANews.gov.za