IT is the good fortune of the cooperative industry that its significant role in the propping up of our country’s economy, especially in these hard times, has finally been acknowledged. Last Tuesday, Malacañang signed into law the Philippine Cooperative Code of 2008 that will grant cooperatives banking powers without losing their tax privileges.
It has long been overdue. Recently, while reading a 2004 report by the Cooperatives Development Authority, I discovered that in 2003 alone, the national average savings generated and mobilized by this little-known sector amounted to a staggering R113 billion, 10 percent of the national budget at that time.
In 2006, data showed that the sector generated 1,636 million jobs, 1.56 million in 2005 and 1.498 million in 2004. Would you believe that its growth rate is higher than that of rural banks? The paper predicted that this will balloon to over R140B this year.
These figures speak volumes about the vibrancy of local cooperatives industry. Significantly contributing to keep it in the pink of health is R.A. 6938, the Cooperative Code of the Philippines. Incidentally, this important piece of legislation was authored by former Senator Butz Aquino who has remained as the moving spirit behind the continued surge of cooperatives around the country today.
If there is one thing that can be said about Aquino, it is the fact he did not abandon his “baby” even after his congressional stint. Acknowledged as the father of modern cooperatives, Aquino, in coordination with other self-help advocates, has been going around the country evangelizing on the big returns and rewards of the coops business. With missionary zeal, he also conducts workshops and seminars to keep stakeholders attuned and responsive to the needs of a fast changing business milieu.
Concurrently chairman emeritus of the National Cooperatives Movement, umbrella organization for local cooperatives, Aquino is one of the brains and prime movers behind the Cooperative Insurance Deposit System Federation Cooperatives. Established last year, CODIS spurs the vigorous growth of this burgeoning industry.
CODIS is the industry’s counterpart of Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation which ensures the return of bank deposits up to R250,000 should host banks encounter liquidity problems. With this insurance mechanism in place, the small depositors’ multi-million-peso deposits held by cooperatives, are now safe from scammers who abscond the hard-earned money of unsuspecting members.
Updated data shows 75,000 various cooperatives nationwide of which 4,812 are credit coops; 1,369 consumer’s; 33,352 multi-purpose agri-based and 24,623 non-agri-based coops. In Metro Manila alone, almost all of the more than 3,500 coops are into money lending and savings activity. And the number of “kooperatibas” is still growing, thanks to the dedication and commitment of people like Butz Aquino and those of his kind.
By Elinando B. Cinco