The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour Awuah, has called for a new cooperative law that will instill modern business principles in the cooperative system.
He said such a law must be able to do away with the welfare mindset that governed the activities of cooperatives and focus on being seen as full-fledged business entities in their own rights.
The minister made this known in a speech read on his behalf on the occasion of the International Cooperatives Day held in Accra, under the theme “Building a better world through Cooperatives”.
He said in order to enact such a law, the ministry in collaboration with the Department of Cooperatives and key stakeholders were advanced in plans to outdoor the new Cooperatives Law.
This, he said, would focus on streamlining the existing systems and strengthening structures that would unleash the full potential of Cooperative Societies as private sectors entities while government, represented by the Department of Cooperatives, played its regulatory role in the most effective manner.
The minister said the new law was aimed at creating an enabling environment for cooperative societies to thrive, create maximum value for shareholders as well as to utilise it as a sustainable avenue for job creation.
He said it would be aimed at streamlining the existing management processes, establishing a Central Financial Facility to support cooperative facilities facing liquidity problems, strengthening the management of Reserve Fund and improving capacity building for all actors in the cooperative system.
“Whereas the new law aims to streamline functions of the Department of Cooperatives as the regulator of the sector, it also provides the establishment of an Apex Body, the Ghana Cooperative Council, to cooperative system in Ghana through the enforcement of standards and good business practices across the sectors,” he said.
He said the Apex Body would be fully owned and supported by cooperative societies to ensure that it would be successful in the performance of its mandate, adding that it was his hope that when the reforms are implemented, the cooperative system would be strengthened and positioned to play its role in national development in a more effective, efficient and sustainable manner.
Mr Kwabena Apraku, Registrar of Cooperatives, Department of Cooperatives, said the cooperative concept emerged as a means of finding solutions to socio-economic problems such as unemployment and low productivity when it was introduced by the British in 1928 to organise then cocoa farmers into cooperative societies to make it easier to engage them.
He said in order to regulate their activities, a Secretariat was established in 1944 to accelerate the promotion and development of cooperatives activities in the country, adding that the mandate at the time was to accelerate the pace of development of the emerging cooperative system.
He said by the end of the 1960s, the Cooperative Office had metamorphosed into a full-fledged Department of Cooperatives with a full complement of staff operating under NLC Decree,1968(NLCD,252), since the cooperative system had spread into every sector of the economy operating in agricultural, industrial, financial and the service sectors of the economy.
Mr Apraku said currently, there are over 12,000 registered cooperatives operating in all sectors of the economy resulting in the tens of thousands of jobs for the labour force, thereby contributing tremendously to the reduction of unemployment in the country.
He said despite these past achievements, the cooperative system still had enormous potential that could be harnessed for accelerated economic growth, job creation and national development should the required measures be put in place.
BY LAWRENCE MARKWEI