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Bills to Boost Cooperatives on Track

May 10, 2012

Department of Trade and Industry

The trade and industry department has submitted the Draft Co-operative Amendment Bills to Parliament in terms of joint rule 159.

Joint rule 159 involves the submitting of draft bills to Parliament following cabinet approval.

A memorandum outlining the objectives of the bills is also forwarded to Parliament.

The bills are then forwarded by the speaker of Parliament and the chairperson of the national council of provinces to the relevant committees in each house.

This is to enable the committees to familiarise themselves with the contents of the bills and make plans in terms of work schedules.

Essentially rule 159 is intended to make Parliament aware that certain proposed legislation is on the way.

The two bills were released for public comment in January last year together with an integrated strategy on the promotion of co-operatives.

The bills seek to introduce additional regulations for the co-operatives sector so as to encourage the growth of co-operatives.

Government wants co-operatives to contribute towards the creation of jobs, poverty alleviation and economic growth.

A key proposal is the setting up of the co-operative development agency.

The agency would aim to:

• Help with governance and management of the co-operatives sector
• Lend support to the development of co-operatives as an organised sector
• Provide financial and non-financial support to the sector
• Provide business support services including pre-registration support, business plan development, mentorship and after-care to co-operatives

The proposed legislation also intends establishing the co-operatives tribunal.

The tribunal would be tasked with handling disputes and conflicts as well as ensuring compliance with the provisions of the act.

Other entities in the pipeline include a co-operative academy to provide training and a co-operative advisory council.

The trade and industry department revealed in November last year that the legislative review of the Co-operatives Act of 2005 had been completed.

Both private and public sector stakeholders were involved in the review. This included the various Nedlac constituencies and the co-operative movement.

It is anticipated that the two bills will be formally tabled in Parliament in the near future.