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From 29th-30th April, around 400 members of cooperatives took part in the conference “The Key today: More cooperativism!”, organised by CICOPA member Ascoop (The Colombian Association of Cooperatives). General Secretary of CICOPA Bruno Roelants spoke at the conference, sharing with the audience how cooperatives contribute to the social development of territories.
Participants were able to debate on various issues: public policies that promote cooperativism in the fight against inequality; the contribution that cooperatives make towards equitable development; cooperation between cooperatives, and the position of cooperatives with regard to tax reform. The aim was to reach joint positions for cooperativism on significant subjects of interest for the movement, within the current political, economic and social situation. Issues included discussion of the National Development Plan (this did not include cooperativist proposals, but it did include a Government proposal that would in principle open the door to convert social production enterprises and mutual societies into limited companies, which was ultimately rejected by the Senate on 6th May); the threat facing the continuation of special tax rules that benefit cooperatives, and the current and future role of cooperativism in the struggle against the concentration of wealth.
One of the central themes of CICOPA’s conference speech was how the cooperative sector has benefited society historically, such as by creating jobs. In this way, cooperativism contributes to the balance of opportunities and earnings between rural areas and cities. “The opportunities for work that the cooperative movement brings to society entail social and economic inclusion, which is able to generate social change. This social change is in turn reflected in a drop in the rate of violence, which is what has happened in Spain and Argentina”, said Roelants.
“It is important for Colombia to start to see the cooperative sector as a tool for strengthening the peace process that is currently underway. It is also essential to begin to consider the need to improve the country’s laws regarding cooperativism, and the cooperative sector should be an example of good governance”, the CICOPA General Secretary concluded.
International Organisation of Industrial, Artisanal and
Service Producers' Cooperatives
Secretariat: C/O European Cooperative House - avenue Milcamps 105
1030 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 543 1033, fax: +32 2 543 1037