Of Cooperators and Cooperatives

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By Art Tibaldo

Consumer Atbp.

Monday, December 16, 2013

IN MY almost three decades as public servant working in a national government office, I have networked with various groups and organizations in the course of my duties and I have also interacted with members of cooperatives. Compared to the usual civic and social organizations present in a locality, I have observed that those belonging to a cooperative are more participative, purposive and determined in making their organization grow and expand.

A check with the Cooperative Development Authority’s website, www.cda.gov.ph, my notion and basic understanding to a cooperative was validated and firmed up that it really takes a cooperator to be in a cooperative. According to CDA, a cooperative is an autonomous and duly registered association of persons, with a common bond of interest, who have voluntarily joined together to achieve their social, economic and cultural needs and aspirations by making equitable contributions to the capital required, patronizing their products and services and accepting a fair share of risks and benefits of the undertaking in accordance with the universally accepted cooperative principles.

The primary objective of every cooperative is to help improve the quality of life of its members. Towards this end, the cooperative shall aim to provide goods and services to its members to enable them to attain increased income, savings, investments, productivity, and purchasing power, and promote among themselves equitable distribution of net surplus through maximum utilization of economies of scale, cost-sharing and risk-sharing. A cooperative shall also provide optimum social and economic benefits to its members and teach them efficient ways of doing things in a cooperative manner, propagate cooperative practices and new ideas in business and management and allow the lower income and less privileged groups to increase their ownership in the wealth of the nation.
According to the definition, cooperative members shall cooperate with the government and other cooperatives and people-oriented organizations to further attain their objectives.

There are two kinds of cooperative members and these are the regular
members and associate members. A regular member is one who has complied with all the membership requirements and entitled to all the rights and privileges of membership as stated in the Cooperative Code and the cooperative by laws. An associate member has no right to vote and be voted upon and is entitled only to such rights and privileges provided by the cooperative’s constitution and by-laws. Not too many are aware that cooperatives can enjoy the privilege of depositing their sealed cash boxes or containers, documents or any valuable papers in the safes of the municipal or city treasurers and other government offices free of charge. Also, cooperatives organized among government employees, notwithstanding any law or regulation to the contrary, shall enjoy the free use of any available space in their agency, whether owned or rented by the Government.

Cooperatives rendering special types of services and facilities such as cold storage, ice plant, electricity, transportation, and similar services and facilities can open their membership to all persons qualified in their areas of operation. Cooperatives and their federations, such as market vendor cooperatives, shall have preferential rights in management of public markets and/or lease of public market facilities, stall or spaces.

Credit cooperatives and federations are entitled to loans, credit lines, rediscounting of their loan notes, and other eligible papers with the Development Bank of the Philippines, the Philippine National Bank, the Land Bank of the Philippines and other financial institutions except the Central Bank of the Philippines. Cooperatives transacting business with the Government of the Philippines or any of its political subdivisions or any of its agencies or instrumentalities, including government-owned and controlled corporations shall be exempt from pre-qualification bidding requirements; and
Cooperatives shall enjoy the privilege of being represented by the provincial or city fiscal or the Office of the Solicitor General, free of charge, except when the adverse party is the Republic of the Philippines.

There are other benefits and entitlement to a CDA accredited cooperative such as tax exemption to imported machinery and utilities needed by the cooperative. As added benefit, the appropriate housing agencies and government financial institutions shall create a special window for financing housing projects undertaken by cooperatives, with interest rates and terms equal to, or better than those given for socialized housing projects. This financing shall be in the form of blanket loans to qualified cooperatives, without need for individual processing. For those who are contemplating to organize a cooperative, you can visit the local CDA office located at the EDNCP Building along Lower Magsaysay Avenue for advice.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on December 17, 2013.


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