Cooperatives Play An Important Role In Economic Transformation

By Jenny Imanina Lanong And Nabilah Saleh

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25 (Bernama) -- The closing ceremony of the International Year of Cooperatives (IYC) held recently in Manchester, United Kingdom, attracted more than 10,000 visitors and 200 exhibitors from 45 countries.

The objective of the IYC was to increase the public's awareness on cooperatives' efforts to reduce poverty, apart from providing jobs and establishing social integration.

Leading the Cooperatives Commission of Malaysia's (SKM) delegation to the event was SKM's Executive Chairman, Datuk Md Yusof Samsudin, who said the event has enhanced the image of the nation's cooperative sector in the eyes of the public.

AWARENESS

According to Md Yusof, it is important to increase the public's awareness on how cooperatives can boost the growth of a country's economy.

"Many have yet to realise cooperatives' contribution to the country's socio-economic development.

"Malaysia should emulate the practices of cooperatives in the country," he told Bernama.

Md Yusof said local cooperatives should be more pro-active, apart from being competent and comprehensive.

"The global community believes that cooperatives are capable of reducing poverty and driving the economy," he said.

He said the commitment of cooperatives in other countries is better and developing rapidly to the extent that they are able to create a cooperative culture in their respective communities without the involvement of middlemen.

"In our country, the society still feels economic activities of cooperatives are limited to giving loans, apart from influencing individuals to become members," he said, admitting that the nation's cooperative movement has shown significant improvement since its establishment in 1922.

ROAD SHOWS

The local cooperative sector was established in 1922 in the form of a small credit-giving entity. Now, the number of local cooperatives has increased to more than 10,000.

The sector not only gives out loans but is also involved in wholesale, retail, farming, housing, tourism, transport and agro-based ventures.

With more than 7 million members, the nation's cooperative sector has a turnover of approximately RM23 billion. The National Cooperatives Day has become SKM's platform to promote the concept and products of cooperatives to the public.

At the IYC programme, visitors were able to understand the 'Co-operative Living' concept, which is divided into commercial, residential and agriculture zones, where each of the components conveys a unique message on the global cooperative movement.

The exhibition at the IYC attracted more than 300 cooperatives with a turnover of US$1.6 trillion. These 300 cooperatives were restaurants, cafeterias, farms, schools, and banks.

The Global 300 Report published by ICA listed 300 cooperatives that had recorded a total profit of US$1.6 trillion, which is equivalent to the Gross National Product (GNP) of the world's ninth biggest economy.

"The global cooperative movement has been successful in developing the society's socio-economic domain," he said.

NATIONAL COOPERATIVE POLICY

Although the government recognises the importance of cooperatives in the nation's development, the public should not assume that the nation is in its 'comfort' zone.

Md Yusof said the government supports the national cooperative movement, but this support should not be taken for granted.

"Some people feel that cooperatives are important in rural areas and that they only focus on businesses that provide services," he said.

This perception should be changed, he said.

The National Cooperatives Policy 2011-2020 determines the path of the national cooperative movement.

"The policy is aimed at pushing the cooperative movement out of its comfort zone, into a new phase.

"The cooperative sector has reduced the level of poverty in the country. Now, the cooperative sector should be involved in creating efficient business entities to generate revenue for its members," he said.

BLUEPRINT

The International Cooperative Alliance's (ICA) blueprint at IYC 2012 follows the National Cooperative Policy.

"Cooperatives all over the world are drivers of a sustainable economy.

"Hopefully, the public will accept a cooperative as a rapidly expanding business entity and an enterprise," he said.

-- BERNAMA