ICA Regional Assembly for Asia-Pacific New Delhi January 5-6, 1995 Minutes Opening Ceremonies B.S. Vishwanathan, President of the National Co-operative Union of India (NCUI), welcomed the 112 participants and described some of the new banking, insurance, and trade initiatives being undertaken by the Indian co-operative movement. Yang Deshou, Chairman of the Regional Assembly, described how the new ICA structure is designed to help co-operative movements deal with challenges arising from new economic and social developments. Mitsugu Horiuchi, ICA Vice-President, spoke of the growing importance of regional issues and appealed to members to support ICA during this challenging time. Lars Marcus, ICA President, described the global trends facing co-operatives and said that the new ICA structure is essentially based on promoting collaboration among co-operatives with similar interests. Dr. Jurgen von Muralt, Director of Enterprise and Co-operative Development, ILO, spoke of the growing collaboration between ICA and ILO. G.K. Sharma, ICA Regional Director, described the role of the ICA Regional Assembly for Asia and the Pacific, which now represents co-operatives in 25 countries, 62 member organisations, and 460 million individual members. Dr. Bal Ram Jakhar, Union Minister for Agriculture, said that new co-operative legislation would soon be presented to Parliament. Arvind Netam, Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Co-operation, discussed how various changes in government policy would affect co-operatives. B.D. Sharma, Chief Executive of NCUI, expressed his thanks to the hosts and organisers of the Regional Assembly for their support and collaboration. Approval of Agenda The items listed in the circulated agenda were approved. Confirmation of Minutes The Minutes of the Regional Consultation held in Beijing on 21-22 April, 1993, were confirmed. Election of Chairman and Vice-Chairman By unanimous decison B.S. Vishwanathan (India) was elected as Chairman of the Regional Assembly for the next two years, and Professor Ungku Aziz (Malaysia) was elected Vice-Chairman. Rules of the Regional Assembly The representatives agreed to some amendments to the draft Rules regarding definition of "Governing Body" and the possibility of inviting associate members, observers, and special invitees to attend. After interventions from India, Malaysia, and Pakistan, the Rules of the Regional Assembly were approved. Rules of the Executive Council The draft rules of the Executive Council, including an amendment regarding membership of the ICA Vice-President from the region, were approved. Consideration of the "Co-operative Charter" The ICA Director-General, Bruce Thordarson, described the background and process of the current review of the co-operative principles. Dr. Y. Paz, member of the Resource Group working with Dr. Ian MacPherson, highlighted the proposals contained in the third draft of the "Co-operative Identity Statement". During the discussion, participants emphasised the following points: the importance of participatory democracy and autonomy (S. Takemoto, JCCU, Japan); the desirability of maintaining the principle of limited interest on share capital (Y. Kato, Zenkyoren, Japan), the importance of service and honesty (S. Chandra, Fishcopfed, India); the importance of democratic forms of management (K. Uchida, Jigyodan, Japan); the need to identify basic values that are universally applicable (Dr. R.C. Dwivedi, India); the distinctiveness of Asian values (U. Aziz, Angkasa, Malaysia); and the importance of applying ethics to business practices (Y. Paz, Israel). Three-year Development Programme of ICA ROAP The ICA Regional Director and Project Advisors described the Regional Office's development programme and its eight technical projects: Policy Development and Legislation, Development Planning and Coordination, Agricultural Co-operative Development, Consumer Co-operative Development, Human Resource Development, Gender Integration, Agricultural Management Training, and Rural Women Leaders' Training. Other activities are undertaken in the areas of environment and worker-owned enterprise. K. Fogelstrom of the Swedish Co-operative Centre (SCC) said that a recent SCC-sponsored evaluation of the ICA's development programme was generally positive but that weaknesses existed in the areas of planning, establishment of performance indicators, and donor coordination. He said that SCC's future approach towards ICA would involve supporting activities rather than institutional development, and that this approach would include a gradual shift of SCC's support from Asia to Africa. B.D. Sharma (India) requested ROAP to be more active in undertaking studies on taxation, and supporting insurance and data bank activities in India. He proposed that the HRD project work more with national organisations instead of training institutions. Report on IDACA Activities The Regional Director, G.K. Sharma, described the nine courses completed during 1993 by the Institute for the Development of Agricultural Co-operation in Asia, including three that were carried out in collaboration with ICA-ROAP. Consideration of the Paper "The Conversion Syndrome" The Regional Director introduced the paper prepared by Mr. Garry Cronan, Registrar of Co-operatives in New South Wales, Australia, concerning the tendency for Australian co-operatives to convert into investor-owned firms. During the discussion, the participants emphasised the following points: concern over the current proposals in India to establish "co-operative companies" (S. Sisodia, India); the need to strengthen co-operative identity (Han Seung-Hee, Korea); the importance of honesty in co-operative businesses (U. Aziz, Malaysia); the need for co-operative education (Y. Paz, Israel); the need for greater efficiency instead of structural change (B.D. Sharma, India); experiences of collaboration with joint-stock-companies (Lim Ho Seng, Singapore); the preferability of working with co-operative partners (Wahiduddin Wahab, Malaysia); the role of co-operatives in serving poor people (Ahmed, Pakistan); the problems of increasing competition (Kim Jong-Jim, Korea); and the need for greater integration among state and national co-operative laws (R. Shanker, India). Report on the Third Co-operative Ministers' Conference Robby Tulus, ROAP Senior Policy Advisor, summarised the conclusions and the recommendations of the July 1994 ministerial conference, held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in four major areas: government-cooperative relationship, co-operatives in the market-oriented economy, regional coordination, and international co-operation. The next conference is scheduled to be held in Thailand. Draft Proposal for Recognition of Co-operatives by ICA The Regional Director reported that the Executive Committee had recommended the appointment of a small committee to examine the proposal. The recommendations of the Committee as circulated were agreed. World Summit for Social Development Dr. Daman Prakash of ICA-ROAP described the background to the UN's March 1995 Social Summit and the role which co-operatives could play in influencing and implementing the meeting's themes of poverty alleviation, employment creation, and social integration. In response to a question from B.D. Sharma about co-operative participation at the Social Summit, Bruce Thordarson reported that ICA would be represented both at the official meeting and at the parallel NGO forum in Copenhagen. Profile of Co-operatives in India The National Co-operative Union of India provided information on the co-operative movement in India, which officially includes some 350,000 co-operatives with a membership of 164 million. Any Other Business M. Horiuchi announced his intention to retire as ICA Vice-President at the Manchester Congress in September 1995. He proposed that Mr. Hakaru Toyoda, President of JA Zenchu, be nominated by the region to succeed him for the remaining two years of his term. This was moved by Mr. Vishwanathan, seconded by Dr. Paz, and agreed. M. Ohya (JCCU) described his proposal to establish an ad hoc Advisory Committee that would review the structure and operation of the Regional Office, and make recommendations to the Regional Director. Mr. Sharma and Mr. Yang spoke in favour of this proposal, which was accepted. Kyu E. Lee, Chairman of the Korean Federation of Community Credit Unions, introduced his organisation, which had been admitted into ICA membership in 1994. Yang Deshou (China) announced that the All-China Federation of Supply and Marketing Co-operatives had been separated from the Ministry of Agriculture at the beginning of 1995, and that plans were underway for the first Chinese Co-operative Congress, to be held in May or June of this year, in order to finalise the restructuring of the movement. He invited all participants to attend the Congress and indicated that in the future the Chinese co-operatives would be able to place more emphasis on international activities. Mr. Yang also expressed thanks for the support he had received as Chairman of the Regional Assembly. Next Meeting Professor U. Aziz, Vice-Chairman of the Regional Assembly, proposed that the 1996 Regional Assembly be held in Malaysia, at a date to be determined. This was agreed. Closing Vishwanathan thanked the participants and organisers for a successful meeting, and closed the Regional Assembly.