Whatever country they are from, co-operators tend to be ambitious for the co-operative movement in their country, but if legislators don’t invest time in getting co-operative legislation right, the movement is held back from growth through no fault of its own. Our UK colleagues have advised me that there has long been a need to modernise British legislation around co-operatives. While changes over the last ten years by successive governments have created a much more level playing field between co-operatives and public limited companies in the UK, there is still more work to be done.
The UK is not the only country where the co-operative movement struggles under the burden of antique complicated legislation not fit for the 21st century. This is why a crucial element of the International Year of Co-operatives 2012 is to encourage governments to establish policies, laws and regulations conducive to the formation, growth and stability of co-operatives.
Alex Baker with the ICA team brought to my attention a report in The Times of India yesterday that at a meeting organised by India’s Federation of Co-operative Housing Societies, Pune’s State Co-operation Minister, Harshavardhan Patil, commented that co-operative housing legislation needs to be updated to allow the sector to grow within his state.
Over 6.6 million people live in one of the 92,000 housing co-operatives in India. With India’s population projected to overtake China as the world’s most populous nation by 2030, it is clear that there is a real opportunity for the co-operative housing sector to grow significantly to meet the demands in this country. In order to seize this opportunity, groundwork will need to be done so that there are as few legislative obstacles as possible for the Indian co-operative movement as they pursue this goal.
Convincing politicians and decision makers globally that co-operatives should be their priority in a world of conflicting priorities is going to be an uphill challenge and not something that we will achieve overnight The UN International Year of Co-operatives gives us the perfect platform to make our case to the world. Our aim for next year as a global co-operative movement has to be about unbinding the ropes that stop us from progressing and making it as easy as possible going forward for co-operative enterprises to build a better world.