Co-ops request retention of tax perks, more funds


LAWMAKERS running in the 2022 national elections are being requested to include in their legislative agenda the retention of tax exemption and hiking funds for the sector to boost the growth and development of co-operatives nationwide.

In a draft joint statement, various groups and organizations of co-operatives outlined a 16-point legislative agenda that they want lawmakers to consider, especially candidates they are rooting to secure seats after the 2022 national elections.

The document was issued by the Philippine Co-operative Center (PCC), the Co-operative Natcco Party List in the House of Representatives (CNPL), the National Co-operative Development Council (NCDC), the League of Co-operative Development Officers of the Philippines (LCDOP) together with various federations and unions nationwide.

The groups will hold a signing ceremony today (October 27) together with prospective lawmakers that are running in the elections next year that they deem would help in advancing the interests of the co-operatives sector.

The “solidarity covenant” stipulates the need to “unify” the voices and actions of the co-operatives sector “for the empowerment and ‘upliftment’ of the lives of co-operative members and their communities.”

“As part of our continuing action, we are developing our strengths and abilities in order for us to be recognized not only as partners of the government in nation-building but also as active participants in crafting policies and laws that will benefit the co-operative movement,” it read.

“The parliamentary and governance arenas are areas of engagement where co-operatives, together with party list groups and legislators supportive of the sector, can advance the co-operatives’ legislative and executive agenda, benefiting the movement in particular and society in general,” it added.

Among the legislative agendas outlined by the co-operatives are the retention of the tax exemption of co-operatives and requiring local government units (LGUs) to allocate at least 2 percent of their respective 20 percent development fund for co-operatives.

“The co-operatives will then use this funding to implement their plans, programs, activities, and services for the benefit of the LGU and its constituents,” it said.

Furthermore, the co-operatives propose that the Co-operative Development Authority (CDA) should “appropriate” development program funds to capacitate LGU’s co-operative development offices (CDO), unions and federations.

“The LGU in turn will provide funds for local co-operative development plans, programs, and activities consistent with the Mandanas ruling,” it said.

The co-operatives also proposed legislating a co-operative banking act that would give emphasis to the co-operative banking sector in its bid to have its own “rule book” that is “distinct and different” from rural and commercial banks. Furthermore, the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC) charter must be amended to require a payment between 80 percent to 100 percent of the actual value of the farmers’ projected harvest, according to the document.

“It is only by properly compensating farmers that we can protect their interests and those of their families. This is very much needed at present and in the years to come considering the devastation being brought about by climate change, resulting in stronger typhoons and more unpredictable weather patterns. Agricultural Co-operatives and Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Co-operatives will benefit from this Bill,” it added.

The other legislative measures that the document outlined are: amending Republic Act 3844 to include more representation of co-operatives in the Land Bank of the Philippines’ board of directors as well as strengthening the PCIC. The co-operatives also proposed the institutionalization of the PUV modernization program with a just transition as well as establishment of the transport loan co-operative fund.

“On Stabilization Fund, a law that supports the establishment of a Co-operative Stabilization Fund System (SFS), a “solidarity fund” patterned after the models in Germany, Netherlands, Canada and South Korea, where credit co-operatives’ participation is mandatory. The SFS features three elements that ensure sound business operations and maintain depositors’ trust and confidence: supervision and monitoring; off-site monitoring and follow-through; and, financial assistance only as last resort,” it added.

In the same statement, the co-operatives expressed their support for the candidacy of Coop-Natcco Party-List and the Agap party-list in the House of the Representatives and for the reelection of Senators Juan Miguel F. Zubiri and Ana Theresia “Risa” N. Hontiveros in the upper chamber of the Congress.

The co-operatives said they supported the four political entities and personalities due to their “established track records in championing the interest and advocacies of the co-operative movement in the 18th Congress.”

The groups said that co-operatives are convinced that the renewed victory of Coop-Natcco and Agap, Zubiri and Hontiveros in the 2022 Party list and Senate elections, respectively, as well as the participation of Koop Kampi in the 2022 Party-list elections, “will help ensure that the co-operatives’ legislative and executive agenda will be truly pursued and realized.”

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