On 25 May Colombia adopted a National Development Plan for 2018-2022, which will form a legislative framework to boost economic development.
The text of the law mentions the role of co-operatives and the wider solidarity economy as development instruments, particularly in rural housing and agriculture, where they help to provide decent work and formalise the informal economy. It also highlights the contribution of co-ops to the country’s peace process.
The document adds that public institutions, including the Ministry of Labour and the regulator for the social and solidarity economy, will support the sector to enable it to grow further, in addition to supervision and regulation.
Ministers see the social and solidarity sector as key to boosting sustainable entrepreneurship. Currently, Colombia has over 86,000 social and solidarity economy enterprises while co-ops have a total of eight million members.
The law also confirms that co-ops and mutuals will remain exempt from paying an employer contribution of 9% their payroll. These contributions go to family compensation funds, the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF) and the national apprenticeship service. The measure aims to remove some regulatory burdens and encourage the development of more co-ops. The government aims to help create more businesses in order to boost employment.
While it welcomed the legislation, Confecoop, Colombia’s apex body for co-ops called for a long-term national policy that would recognise and promote co-operatives across all sectors of the economy, not just agriculture and rural development. The federation also warned that co-ops were more than simply “instruments” in the implementation of short-term projects.
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