Policy, Development and Legislation (1998)
(Source: ICA in Asia and the Pacific -Annual Report 1997, pp.3)
Policy, Development and Legislation
The ICA Policy Development and Legislative Program (PDLP) continued to focus on increased dialogue between government and movement. While co-operative policy and legislative reform remained high on the agenda, the program was predicated on the need to develop co-operative competitive strength as well.
PDLP brought forward the co-operative legislative agenda addressed during the past three Ministerial Conferences in Asia and the Pacific region. Unlike the previous ones, however, the Fourth Co-operative Ministers' Conference held in Chiangmai, Thailand, in March 1997, was preceded in large part by intensive consultations and a critical study that provoked further thinking on the need to preserve the true identity of co-operatives. While policy reforms are important, these reforms must support the distinctive character of co-operatives and not be biased towards 'corporate' structures, practices, and culture. PDLP stresses that the co-operative is a unique sector by itself, bridging the corporate and public sectors. In short, the project was aimed at developing competitive strength like any other business enterprise without compromising the true co-operative identity. This has led to the need at ICA ROAP to explore the concept of Value-based Management.
The extent to which the Co-ope-rative Identity will be enjoyed by members at the primary level is supported by Resolution No. 1.4 of he Fourth Co-operative Ministers Conference. The strengthening of competitive position of co-operatives emanated from the results of two successive Symposia - Financial Intermediation and Agri-business - held in 1996. Linkages have now been built between stronger co-operative movements such as Korea, Singapore, and Japan, with those in the developing nations. Canada (Saskatchewan Wheat Pool) also participated in the Agri-business Symposium to seek a backward link for future business opportunities. More specifically, a survey on trade potential among co-operatives in five developing countries have been conducted, and a proposal for setting up an International Co-operative Trade Network has been submitted for consideration by Canada and Australia.
An exhaustive critical study was also conducted by Messrs. Ibnoe Soedjono and Mariano Cordero on 'Co-operative Legislation and Competitive Strength', profiling strong and weak co-operatives in five selected countries in South East Asia. This study has further sharpened the focus of PDLP to strengthen autonomy and independence of co-operatives, while at the same time to build competitive strength in the changing socio-economic environment.
The Fourth Co-operative Ministers Conference was a grand success and ICA will closely monitor the implementation of its resolutions in 1998 towards greater reform conducive to the co-operative movement in this region. It was resolved that the Fifth Co-operative Ministers Conference will be held in Beijing in October 1999, mapping out ways to create co-operative readiness in entering the next millennium.