The key role and significant contribution of cooperatives in alleviating poverty, generating employment and supporting the socio-economic development of the country was the main gist of the message given by the Minister of Business, Enterprises and Cooperatives, Mr Soomilduth Bholah, on 06 July 2018 in the context of the International Cooperative Day 2018.
The Minister recalled that since 1913 the cooperative movement has been instrumental in ensuring the progress of the country and that the sector today constitutes of some 1100 cooperative societies with a turnover of Rs 5.8 billion. He underlined that cooperatives are guided by principles such as accountability, solidarity, good governance, equality and democracy which render them more apt to infusing sustainability at the core of their activities.
He emphasised that with the promulgation of the New Cooperatives Act in May 2017, some 364 new cooperatives societies have already been set up till date. The New Cooperatives Act provides for stronger legal, fiscal and policy support and advocates for key elements such as corporate governance, code of ethics and best practices.
Various incentives including the creation of the Cooperative Audit Unit, the Mauritius Cooperative Alliance Limited and the National Cooperative College (NCC), have been put in place to further consolidate the sector, he added.
Minister Bholah pointed out that a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between India and Mauritius to enhance collaboration in the field of cooperatives. On this score, he recalled the visit of two experts from India who were in Mauritius to share the know-how and techniques of cultivation for better yield of sugarcane. He also outlined that some 15 Mauritian participants have benefitted training in bio-agriculture at the National Centre of Organic Farming in India.
In the face of digitalisation, he underscored, cooperatives would be required to modernise their operations and adopt technological approaches to doing business. Government is fully determined to give a new impetus to this sector by urging competition and innovation as well as supporting cooperative societies through the setting up of the e-Registration project and cooperative ICT centres.
The Minister underlined that as regards the cooperative movement on the international forefront, discussions have already been initiated for further collaboration between the NCC and the Cooperative College of Malaysia.
He concluded by paying tribute to the pioneers of the cooperative movement and underlined the increasing contribution of women and the youth in sustaining the sector.
International Cooperative Day
The International Cooperative Day, celebrated on 07 July each year, enables creating awareness on cooperatives and highlighting the complementary goals. It also underscores the contributions of the movement towards resolving major socio-economic concerns and strengthens partnerships among key stakeholders. The theme, for Mauritius, this year is Sustainable Societies through Cooperation.