With a combined earnings of $38 million last year, cooperatives in Brunei can play a role in creating employment and diversifying the economy.
However, according to the Minister of Energy and Industry (pictured above), to improve, cooperatives need to address some of the stumbling blocks they currently face. This includes inefficient management and lack of operational understanding on the primary objectives of becoming a cooperative.
“We have also found that there is a lack of commitment from cooperative members and little interest from youth,” YB Dato Paduka Dr Hj Mat Suny Hj Mohd Hussein said at the Legislative Council session yesterday.
Less than half of the 161 registered cooperatives are active, and collectively employ 1,264 locals. “Out of the 60 active cooperatives registered in Brunei, 15 are established at government institutions [such as in schools],” he said.
“We have also found that there is a lack of commitment from cooperative members and little interest from youth.”
There is potential for growth, taking into account that globally, cooperatives generate US$3 trillion in revenue. In countries like New Zealand, France and Finland, cooperatives contribute to over 15 per cent of national GDP.
With these hurdles in mind, YB Dato Dr Hj Mat Suny said that the government has pinpointed six key areas to help cooperatives develop and thrive. These includes pushing for increased youth involvement, developing business skills and management of members as well as encouraging cooperatives to explore sectors with export potential.
Last year, the department proposed to release a Cooperative Code of Conduct where it will provide guidelines which can help local cooperatives to not only manage their business better, but also become more transparent and accountable.