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Co-operatives A Boost To Economic Development

Co-operatives A Boost To Economic Development
Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism Permanent Secretary Saheen Ali (third from right), and some Co-operative members from all over Fiji celebrating the World International Co-operatives Day at Ratu Sukuna Park, Suva on July 7, 2018. Photo: Maraia Vula
July 08
11:41 2018

Over the last seven decades, Co-operatives have evolved significantly, with 1,809 Co-operatives registered in Fiji.

This data was shared by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism Permanent Secretary Shaheen Ali during the World International Co-operatives Day celebrations at Ratu Sukuna Park in Suva yesterday.

He said: “Through savings and loans co-operatives, members have approximately $59 million in savings and the loan portfolio stands at approximately $51 million.

“Co-operatives have also ventured into the service industry, providing services like taxi and tours, security services, hire vehicle and cleaning and catering businesses.

“This has been made possible by the Fijian Government and Ministry placing more emphasis on more on service, value-addition and resource-based Co-operatives, rather than simple consumer coops.

“For the past five years, on average 20 new resource-based Co-operatives are registered each year.”

Mr Ali said the fact that the Co-operatives model, having a history stretching back almost two centuries, is an indication of the resilience of the business model and its relevance to economic and social development of small developing states, such as Fiji.

“For this reason, the Fijian Government has prioritised the development of Co-operatives in Fiji.

“The five year and 20-year national Development Plan, through its goal of promoting equal opportunities, access to basic services and building resilient communities has identified the need to strengthen cooperatives’ institutional capacity.

“This will be achieved by integrating overlapping community projects under the IHRDP, agriculture, sugar, youth, women’s programme under the legal structure of Co-operatives.

“The ministry will be working with the relevant departments to operationalise this strategy.”

Target 100

The Ministry early this year, had launched  Target 100.

“It is an initiative to assist and guide 100 Co-operatives around Fiji, to be fully compliant with the Co-operatives Act.

“Thus far, we have successfully received 76 financial accounts, which is a great achievement.

“Sustainability, as an approach to development, is priority of the Fijian Government.

“Small Island developing nations, such as Fiji, are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

“Therefore, a proactive approach towards consumption and production of goods and services is vital.

Success story

“While the Prime Minister leads the charge in the fight against climate change, it is especially heartening to see our Co-operative businesses, such as Drawa Block Forest Co-operative Limited in Dreketi, setting an example by engaging in the carbon trading business.

“These landowners have given up rights to logging timber in exchange for the opportunity to sell rainforest carbon offsets as a way of generating revenue for local community development.

“The area under this project is approximately 1, 548 hectares secured through a 30 years lease agreement.

“Annually, Drawa Block Forest
Co-operative collects 18,800 carbon credits.

“The Co-operative collected $20,700 from the sale of carbon this year alone.

“Coming back to today’s event, the theme of “Sustainable Con-sumption and Production of Goods and Services”, allows us to focus and work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The SDGs call for closer partnership between all stakeholders, in implementing an ambitious plan of action for people, planet and prosperity.

“In this regard, Co-operatives are in a unique position to help achieve the SDGs, as they are natural drivers that can work towards the development of grassroot communities.”

A total of 68 co-operatives from all the divisions were who were part of the World Co-operatives Day celebration were given a certificate of participation from the Ministry.

It is understood that these registered co-operatives are in talks with the ministry to form an APEX body.

About the Co-operatives

Co-operatives was introduced in 1947 in Fiji.

“This year mark’s 70 years of Co-operative movement in Fiji, this a platinum celebration for us.”

“The first Co-operative, the Naluna Co-operative Society from Tailevu, was registered on march 3, 1948.

“Makadru Co-operative Society from Matuku, Lau, which still operates today, was registered on October 13, 1948 with the objective to purchase goods of all kinds from producers and wholesalers, to sell to the members.

Feedback:  maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

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