Minister of Labour and Small Enterprise Development Jennifer Baptiste-Primus took the opportunity to deny claims that she is only involved in consultations and not making progress in the ministry.
At a consultation held by the ministry today at the Hilton Trinidad on the Co-operative Societies Act, she said discussions and consultations are necessary for the development of any society.
“Consultation is a time-consuming exercise, and if you don’t get it right, then the end result will be one that will make everyone unhappy.”
While time was spent on the process and there was a submission, she said the process and document had to be revisited, after feedback from the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
“We did not get it right in the first instance, and although Cabinet approved the policy, we thought it necessary that that policy be revised in keeping with the subsequent views and critical recommendations received.”
Consultations on section 81:03 of the act began in 2016 to develop a draft national policy on co-operatives and a revised Co-operative Societies Act.
The act was last updated in 1971 and the amendment to this and the policy intends to allow for a more effective and efficient regulation of the sector. It is expected to be sent to Cabinet soon.
In her feature address Baptiste-Primus said credit unions are important to a majority of the population in assisting with entrepreneurial development, wealth generation, employment creation, community development and diversification.
“The co-operative sector controls a critical part of this country’s economy, and it is imperative that we consult with you on the pertinent issues which directly and indirectly impact your sector.”
The policy is intended to guide the development of both financial and non-financial co-operatives, in keeping with an international framework. The ministry consulted the ILO, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the International Credit Union Regulators Network, among other bodies.
The areas of focus are financial regulation and supervision, governance and leadership, dispute resolution and audit and liquidation.
Baptiste-Primus said the sector continues to face challenges both locally and internationally, and there must be adaptation mechanisms in place to keep up with new developments, stringent financial regulations and changing legislative environments.
“The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are now putting significantly more pressure on governments to improve its regulation and governance,” she explained.
The consultation also included members of the ILO.