Development Activities - Policy, Development and Legislation (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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February, 1997
(Source: ICA in Asia and the Pacific -Annual Report 1996)

		        Policy, Development and Legislation 
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The Objective
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PDLP is to promote a positive dialogue between government and 
the co-operative movement in an effort to make policies and 
legislation more conducive for co-operatives to run their business 
in an autonomous and independent manner.

The programme during the first half of 1996 focused on a critical 
study on 'Co-operative Legislation and Competitive Strength', 
undertaken by Messrs. Ibnoe Soedjono (Indonesia) and Mariano 
Cordero (Philippines) to assess in earnest the state of co-
operative development in five selected South-East Asian countries, 
i.e. Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. 

The study was intended to be a completely independent one that 
would transcend institutional biases, hence enhancing transparency 
in its presentation.

The study concluded that the most discernable impact of the ICA 
ROAP-sponsored Co-operative Ministers' Conference is the 
enactment of new co-operative laws designed to closely conform 
with the co-operative principles. Based on these new laws and 
stated policies, governments are seen to be shifting away from 
being interventionists and are taking on a more supportive (and 
passive) role in co-operative development.

Notwithstanding the present laws and policy statements, however, 
governments continue to pursue inappropriate development 
strategies and programmes on account of large development 
bureaucracies, inadequate power and mandate of co-operative 
authorities in that country, the embodiment of co-operative 
development to broader government objectives, as well as the 
dichotomy between the socio-political agenda vis-a-vis co-
operative development. The study also observed the pitfalls 
of co-operative growth and expansion in terms of its 
competitiveness.

Findings and recommendations from the above study was 
further presented and debated at two successive gatherings, 
the first one was the Symposium on Co-operative Banking 
and Financial Intermediation held in August 1996 in Goa, India, 
and the second one was a Symposium on Co-op Agri-Business 
held in November 1997 in Yangon, Myanmar.

While most findings and recommendations coming from the 
critical study were positively acknowledged, participants at 
both Symposia were of the view that variables within the 
legislative and competitive issues in the region must be needed 
so that strategies in bringing about policy and legislative 
reforms must be left to each country movement to develop 
without losing the important context proposed by the study.

Parallel to the critical study and the two symposia mentioned 
above, ICA ROAP also conducted an intensive survey of 
member countries to ascertain the extent to which recommendations 
from the Third Co-operative Ministers' Conference have been 
followed up on. 

The survey, conducted by Dr. R.C. Dwivedi, dealt with the question 
of the continuing importance of co-operatives, among others (a) to
determine structural changes that have taken place within co-
operative institutions to enhance competitiveness, (b) enactment 
of new laws, or amendments that have been adopted in existing 
co-operative laws, (c) the intensification of human resource 
development programmes, (d) the impact of economic reforms 
on co-operatives, (e) government support to co-operatives, 
and (f) measures taken for creating the conducive environment 
for the development of co-operatives.

Results of the two Symposia and the internal survey was 
further presented and addressed at the ICA Regional Consultation 
in Yangon, Myanmar, in early December of 1996, attended by 
Permanent Secretaries of Governments and Chief Executives 
of ICA Member organizations from 18 countries. To round 
up the deliberations at the Consultation meeting, two cross-cutting 
themes on Gender Integration and Sustainable Development were 
added to the agenda.

The resolution and recommendations from the Regional 
Consultation in Myanmar will be presented and reviewed at 
the Fourth Asia-Pacific Conference of Co-operative Ministers 
in Chiangmai, scheduled for March, 1997.

To sum up this PDLP report, it must be said that since policy
development deals for the most part with qualitative results, 
the process that has ensued over the past year is as important 
as the written or documented results themselves.

The search for a common perception on co-operative development 
and the right understanding that comes as a result can only be 
endeavoured through positive dialogue and meaningful deliberations. 

With mutual understanding created, a more conducive environment 
will be fashioned by the authorities for co-operatives to run their 
business in a more autonomous and independent manner.