| Experiences From Asias Rural Co-Operatives Workshop report 9 |
After extensive, deliberations, the Workshop, came to the conclusion that there was an imperative need for co-operatives to adapt to the changing economic conditions. Structural adjustments and a more de-regulated and liberalized market economy will result in a more competitive environment. This, in turn, will demand a more exacting performance by the co-operatives.
The Workshop recognised the great diversity which exists among the countries in the Asian Region. It came to the following conclusions on major issues of importance for co-operative development.
6.1 Human Resource Development
Effective performance of a co-operative depends upon active member participation, committed leadership and well trained and motivated staff. To increase members’ participation, all available means of communication must be utilised and institutions such as mass-media, educational programmes, civic groups; for leadership development special training programmes must be undertaken. Efforts will have to be made to increase members’ awareness about the nature of co-operatives and of their rights and duties as the owners of co-operative organisations.
6.2 Effective Staff Training
The need for staff training was repeatedly emphasised. The Workshop stressed that such training has to be directly relevant to the requirements of the jobs. The staff must be provided with suitable employment conditions and career prospects to ensure their continuing services for the co-operatives. For training and education all modern and appropriate methods and technologies will have to be utilized.
6.3 Co-operative Institutions
In order to be effective, co-operative institutions must best serve members’ economic and social needs. Co-operatives have, therefore, to be productive, financially viable and operationally efficient. This is generally hindered by lack of financial resources, particularly by the small amount of equity capital and inadequate members’ savings.
Professional management, especially in larger co-operatives and which acts in accordance with the objectives of co-operatives, is required at all levels. Internal rules and regulations of cooperatives should be supportive to the achievement of the objectives. The board of directors and management of co-operatives should be fully accountable to the members for their performance.
Appropriate structures will have to be developed, which enhance the co-operative’s ability to better serve its members. The integrated structures, which seek to integrate their activities with the specific economic and social needs of their member-house-holds, on the one hand, and their own functional operations into close-knit 1-, 2- or 3-tier vertical structures, on the other, for example, seem to have performed better, in this context.
Suitable systems for monitoring and evaluation must be designed and installed at all levels. Modern systems of management information and control will help to improve the performance of co-operatives.
6.4 Support System For Strengthening Co-operatives:
The Workshop suggested that in developing situations, suitable support systems were essential for strengthening co-operatives. Such support systems should however, not hamper resolve to attain self reliance and impinge upon their autonomy.
6.5 State- Cooperative Relations
In many cases, governments dominate the co-operative movements. This inhibits their self-reliance and makes them dependent on an external agency. There is, therefore, the need to review the legislative and administrative framework governing co-operatives and thus minimize the role of government. This will be in line with the trend towards a more de-regulated economy. In this context, special attention has to be accorded, to the role of the Registrar or to any other government authority concerned with the co-operative movement. While recognising the role of governments in co-operative development, the Workshop noted with concern the frequent instances of outside political interference in the affairs of co-operatives and underlined the need for discouraging such practices. Gradual de-officialisation is essential.
Although there is scope for further improvement, co-operatives have contributed substantially to the social and economic development of a country. However, such contribution is often hindered when governments use co-operatives as instruments for the implementation of their own plans and programmes. The Workshop was of the view that, in cases, where government sponsored schemes are in accordance with the co-operatives objectives, such schemes may be implemented through co-operatives, but only with their consent and on payment for the extra services rendered by them, and without affecting their autonomy.
6.6 Favourable Climate For Co-operatives
All possible action must be taken to create a climate which is conducive to the development of autonomous and self-reliant co-operatives. There is a need for bringing about an improvement in the image of co-operatives at all levels. This depends essentially on the performance of co-operatives. Their achievement and example of good work therefore need to be made known widely. This could, basically, be the responsibility of the apex organizations.