A call has been made for amendments to the Cooperatives Societies Act to reduce the number of persons required to form a co-operative and for the creation of “administrative hubs” to help co-operatives maximise on their investments.
A co-operative involves mutual assistance towards a common goal such as a farm, business or other organisation owned and run jointly by its members who share the benefits or profits.
In making his contribution to the 2021 Budget debate held in the Upper House of Parliament, Farmers’ representative, Senator Roderick St. Clair presented a scenario of some of the challenges faced by individuals wishing to form cooperatives but cannot because they do not have enough persons to meet the “11-member or so” requirement.
Explaining the gravity of the situation in an interview with THE NEW TODAY last week Monday, Sen. St. Clair said that these persons “would have to go and find others who may not (necessarily) share the same interests in the business,” which he indicated often times leads to “disharmony.”
“If you have a cooperative that has eight persons and some people are not pulling their weight, at the end of the day they would benefit the same because they are a part of the cooperative…leading to disharmony…at the end of the day, they are a part of the co-operative and they have to benefit equally as those who are working hard…
“…If you can reduce the numbers required to form a cooperative to about three or four (persons)…it would be easier for them (the cooperatives),” he said, adding that “the chances for disharmony would (also) be greatly reduced.”
Sen. St. Clair is also advocating for the formation of “administrative hubs to provide administrative, marketing and other services to cooperatives,” as a circumvention to assist those who may not be so business-orientated.
“And that is the approach to the whole thing,” he said, noting that “a lot of times these small cooperatives don’t know how to keep their books…but they know how to make the products…the members bring a skill to production or to service.”
St. Clair’s ideas were supported by Private Sector Representative, Sen. Christopher De Allie who cited need for changes to be made to the legislation to be done in the shortest order.
“If we want to talk about agriculture playing this pivotal role in relation to food security and giving families an opportunity to earn revenue and get some financial security on their side…we must address the issue of cooperatives and I put that to my colleagues on the other side and that’s an amendment we need to come to this Parliament quickly to get adjusted so we can facilitate the sizing of these cooperatives,” De Allie told Parliament in his contribution to the budget debate.
“For years I wondered why cooperatives don’t work in Grenada…a lot of cooperatives have started and failed. There are a few around now that working primarily led by women…but when I heard the Senator for Agriculture mention about the size of the co-operatives and the fact that the legislation doesn’t cater for small ones with like four (members) and so on, I said ah, here is a bottleneck.
So, Mr President, I think that we have to push that and we have to push that fast,” De Allie added.