Regional Update (1997)

This document has been made available in electronic format
by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
July, 1997
(Source: Asia-Pacific Co-op News, Vol.4, No.2, Apr-June 1997, pp.6-8)


New Board for BJSU
Members of the Managing Committee of the Bangladesh Jatiya Samabaya
Union were elected June 25, 1997:
Mr. Md. Habibur Rahman Molla M.P, Chair
Mr. Md. Nazrul Islam (Babu), Joint Sectretary
Mrs. Seheli Hoque, Treasurer
Mr. Md. Rakibuzzaman, Member
Dr. M.A. Rashid, Member
Mr. Md. Kamaluddin Chowdhury, Member

Co-op Fertiliser Expansion Plant Opened
Indian Prime Minister I. K. Gujural dedicated the Indian Farmers Fertiliser
Co-operative Limited expansion plant in Aonla to the nation in celebration
of 50 years of Indian independence.

The new plant will produce 726,000 tons of urea per year, doubling
production at the Aonla fertiliser plant, contributing to India's food grains
production to 7 million tons a year.

S.N. Singh Joins Institute of Rural Management in Anand
On June 23, 1997, Mr. S.N. Singh joined the Institute of Rural
Management in Anand as a consultant responsible for teaching, training
and research in the Co-operative Management and Pancha-yati Raj
Institutions. Previously he was working with the National Diary
Development Board, Anand, India.

IFFCO's Managing Director is the new President of IFIA
Mr. U.S. Awasthi, Managing Director of the Indian Farmers Fertiliser
Co-operative Limited became the new President of the International
Fertiliser Industry Association at their Beijing Conference hled from 
May 19 to 22.

Mr. Awasthi takes over from Mr. C.E. Childers, Chair of the Potash
Corporation of Saskatchewan.

NAFED has new E-mail facility
National Agricultural Co-operative Marketing Federation of India Ltd.(NAFED) has installed E-mail facility in their offices.  The E-mail addresses for their various offices are as follows:
New Delhi Head Office
Regl. Office, Mumbai
Regl. Office, Chennai 
Regl. Office, Calcutta
Regl. Office, Delhi

Citibank grant to NGOs for women
In an interesting experiment with 'micro-lending', Citibank NA will
provide a grant of $500,000 over three years to two non-governmental
organisations aimed at the empowerment of 'under-privileged women' in
urban India.

Announcing this initiative at a press conference in Mumbai on June 23,
Mr. David Conner, CEO of Citibank India said that this project was part
of Citicorp's international $10 million, five-year community grant
programme called 'Banking On Enterprise'.

The money will be disbursed to the Self-Employed Women's Association
(SEWA), an Ahmedabad-based NGO which has promoted a women's co-
operative bank, and Society for Promoting of Area Resources Centres
(Sparc), a Mumbai-based community group. The NGOs will use the funds
to develop organisational infrastructure and skills for developing financial
services among women as well as for giving small soft loans to the under
privileged women for entrepreneurial activity.

Ms. Ela Bhatt, representing SEWA, said that her organisation's experience
of banking among women through the Friends of Women's World Banking
had shown that cash income in women's hands was invariably invested in
health, education and household services which contributed to bettering
family life. "Repayment of loans among women is as high as 97 per cent,"
said Ms. Bhatt.

Answering questions as to why Citicorp had been approached instead of
co-operative or public sector banks, Ms. Ela Bhatt, while admitting she
was 'nervous' about the relationship, said other institutions had not come

(Economic Times, June 24, 1997)

Co-ops and Part-time work - Opportunity or Exploitation?
The Japanese economy is one of the strongest in the world in spite of the
high cost of labour.  Business has reduced labour costs by hiring more low
wage part time workers, many of them women.  

From 1980 to 1994, the number of full-time women employees rose 71 per
cent while those working part-time increased 153 per cent.  During that
same period, the percentage of part-time women workers rose from 19.3 to
31.8 per cent of all working women.

Co-ops, like other Japanese retailers, have had to cut labour costs in order
to remain price competitive.  JCCU's member co-ops increased part-time
employees from 30.3 per cent of the total co-op labour force in 1981 to
43.8 per cent in 1995, for a total of 88,921 part-time workers.

Retail co-ops expanding store operations saw an even bigger increase in
part-time work. About 70 per cent of all workers in university
co-operatives are now part-time, a level considered high even in regular
retail trade.

What does part-time mean for workers?

At one time, part-time workers were considered "disposable," but as their
importance in the workplace increases so do their benefits.  In response to
recommendations for part-time work by a 1987 advisory board on efficient
management, the Labour Standards Law in Japan has been reformed to
allow part-time workers social benefits like annual paid vacation and
employment insurance.

Co-op part time employees differ from workers in other sectors.  Many
are women at home, and almost all are co-op members.  As both
employees and investors, co-ops attach great importance to the
contribution of these women in decision-making.

When determining consumer preference for necessary goods and services,
co-ops can now turn to their employees for answers.  The information is
often more accurate than data available to manufacturers and wholesalers.
Co-op part-timers are also actively involved in planning events in different
parts of Japan, even suggesting menus using co-op products.

Co-op Kobe demonstrates the value of their part-time workers when they
refer to women part-timers as "mates," while working students and others
with shorter shifts are called "friends." 

In 1997, The National Federation of Co-operative Labour Unions - the
umbrella organisation for co-op labour unions throughout Japan -
conducted a survey which showed 26 per cent of all co-op part-timer
workers were fully satisfied with their work and the co-op movement as
compared to 18 per cent of full-timers.  However, this number has been
declining in recent years. 

Reasons for dissatisfaction listed in the 1997 survey were:
Lack of cooperative aspect to the job				20%
Lack of stability and uncertainty about the future		24%
Unsatisfactory policies of the Board of Directors		14%
Dislike for the way the workplace is administered		25%
Unsatisfactory working conditions				18%

The increasing importance of part-timer as both workers and co-op
members means co-op boards of directors must work hard to maintain a
healthy working environment by relying on the strong contribution from
its most active members.

Korean Federation of Community Credit Co-ops Moves
The headquarters of the Korean Federation of Community Credit
Cooperatives moved July 1, 1997. 

Their new address is:
Korean Federation of Community Credit Co-operatives
164, Samsong-Dong
Seoul, Korea  135-090
Tel. 822-3459-9114, 3459-9016
Fax. 822-3459-9240
web site:

ANGKASA has a new address
ANGKASA, the national apex co-operative organisation of Malaysia
has a new address, which is:
Lot. 6, Jalan SS6/3 Kelana Jaya
47301 Petaling Jaya
Selangor Darul Ehsan
Tel. 603-706-1977
Fax. 603-706-1519
All specialised functional groups of ANGKASA have been dissolved in
accordance with the amendments to ANGKASA bylaws and registered
under subsection 18 (3) of the Co-operative Ordinance 1993 by the
Registrar of Co-operatives Malaysia. 

All correspondence relating to the specialised functional groups should be
forwarded to the General Manager at the above address.

Medical Co-ops Meet
APHCO meeting, attended by the State Minister for Health, will be held
August 26 in Kathmandu, followed by a PHECT study visit on August 27
and a sight-seeing programme to Pokhra on August 28.

PHECT has acquired 30 acres of land to build a permanent 56-bed hospital
fully equipped with path labs, x-ray and operation theatres in Kathmandu

Organic Co-op Tea Available in Supermarkets
Organic tea co-operative products are being sold in supermarkets in
Kathmandu,  labelled and certified by authorities.

Car Co-op Pilot Project Launched
A pilot car co-operative project that will complement the public transport
system by providing flexible and independent use of automobiles to its
members was launched in Singapore this June, the SNCF Co-operator
Newsletter reported recently.

About 120 members will participate in NTUC INCOME's pilot at Toh Yi
Estate.  The concept was initiated on the suggestion of Minister of
Communications, Mr. Mah Bow Tan in July, 1996.   Initial capital of
S$1.5 million will amass a fleet of 8 to 10 cars.

Sri Lanka
Cabinet Shuffle in Sri Lanka
A recent cabinet shuffle in Sri Lanka has precipitated the resignation of
Asoka Subasinghe, Chair of the Sri Lanka Institute of Co-operative
Management.  Mr. Subasinghe resigned to allow the new Minister of Co-
operatives to appoint a chair of his choice.

Also there is a change in the Secretary of Co-operative Development
(now the Ministry of Co-operatives, Provincial Councils, Local
Government and Indigenous Medicine is Ministry of Co-operatives). The
new  Secretary to the Ministry is Mr. Anton Alfred.

Nominees to the ICA Regional Women's Committee
The ICA Regional Office has formed a Regional Women's Committee 
and requested the Member Organisations to nominate one member each
to the Committee. So far the following members have been nominated:

1. 	Ms. Young Ja Lee, President of Seongi Dong Community Credit Co-
operative, KFCCC, Korea.

2.	Ms. Rufina S. Salas, Manager, LIMCOMA Marketing Co-operative,

3.	Ms. Nguyen Thi Nghia, Vice President of Vietnam Co-operative Union
and General Director of Saigon Union of Trading Co-operatives, Vietnam.

4.	Ms. Dr. Parvin Maroofi, Central Organization for Rural Co-operatives
of Iran (CORC)

The member organisation in the Region who have so far not nominated any
member to the Regional Women's Committee are requested to send in their
nominations at an early date to:

The Gender Programme Advisor 
ICA Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
43, Friends Colony (East)
New Delhi, 110 065, India 
Fax: 91-11-6835568

Structural Reformation of Co-ops in Europe
Mr. Ivano Barberini, President of Lega Nazionale, Italy was invited by the
Consumers' Co-operative Institute, Japan at a Special Seminar on March
28-29, 1997. 

Summary of his presentation, as published by the CCIJ New, Japan, is
reproduced below.

"Decline of European Co-ops is caused by the fact that their actions came
too late. 

The key of success is self-criticism and reformation of the top leaders and
management group. 

Clarifying our values and seeking the differential economy are important. 
Ideal with state-of-the-art technology, viz. the combination of the co-
operative value and the competitive power is needed. 

Collective policy-making and the materialization through the joint project
should be organized with friendship and argument. 

We must respect the community, members and employees. 
Listen to the members and employees!"

(CCIJ News, Japan, June, 1997)

The development funding bubble is about to burst. The Central Social
Welfare Board (CSWB) is going to blacklist several thousand Non-
Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
Following the non-submission of audited accounts by several NGOs which have received funds from them, the CSWB initiated independent investigations and discovered that an alarming number of these NGOs exist only on per. 
Since the present chairperson took over the CSWB, the investigations have been going and funding to suspect NGOs has been frozen.
The CSWB is currently going through the investigation reports and preparing the list of NGOs to be blacklisted.
	Widespread irregularities in the accounts of the various NGOs are being investigated and vigilance enquiries have been sought in several states. Consequent to the freezing of funds, the chairman and the executive director of CSWB have received threats to their lives. The case is being investigated by the South District Police.
Looking into the functioning of the Family Counselling Centres (FCCs), the Institute for Psychological Research and Studies, Patna University, stated that of the 21 FFCs evaluated, 38 per cent were found to be bogus. In Maharastra, the Karve Institute of Social Science, Pune, found that only three of the 18 FFCs were functioning property. The worst reports came from Haryana, Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.