Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- A conference to be held in Saudi Arabia in November, which will be patronized by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, will discuss the role of cooperative societies in confronting the sharp increase in prices of consumer goods. According to a senior official at the Saudi Ministry of Social Affairs, it will also seek to benefit from some of the successful experiences of cooperatives in neighbouring countries such as Kuwait.
Deputy Minister of Social Affairs Awad Al Raddadi stated that the Ministry of Social Affairs is devoted to implement an executive plan to introduce a new system of cooperative societies to officially replace the former system that has existed for over forty years.
In a news conference in which Al Raddadi shed light upon the objectives of the cooperative societies conference in Saudi Arabia that will be entitled ‘Hand in Hand Towards Better Cooperative Action,’ he said, “The new system is an effort to develop the sector of cooperative business,” although he acknowledged that this sector has undergone a period of “stagnancy.”
The three-day conference of cooperative societies will focus on the development of cooperative action, the establishment of cooperatives and their objectives, the different types of cooperatives, the systems and regulations entailed and the future of cooperative action in the country.
Al Raddadi highlighted that while some cooperative societies in Saudi Arabia are struggling, there are “successful” cooperative societies.
“The role of cooperatives in development in general and local development in particular, in confronting high prices and the role of governmental, non-governmental and charitable organizations within the cooperative voluntary action [will also be discussed at the conference]” added al Raddadi.
Saudi Arabia is home to 159 cooperative societies, 126 of which are multi-purpose cooperatives, while the number of agricultural cooperatives is estimated at 24.
Awad al Raddadi revealed that the Ministry of Social Affairs had authorized some agricultural coalitions to confront the repercussions of the global economic crisis. “We are living in the age of coalitions. We have already licensed some coalitions such as poultry producers, fishermen, beekeepers and date manufacturers. Together, they will be able to confront what the global economy is experiencing,” explained al Raddadi.
The capital of Saudi cooperatives along with their assets reaches approximately 265, 000 Saudi Riyals and they are formed of over 41,000 active members.
The new system has also raised the level of subsidies offered to cooperatives from seven to 12 subsidies per year.
Dr. Nasser al Tuwaim, chairman of the Cooperative Society affiliated to the King Saud University, stated that the facilitations provided by the government to cooperative societies and their exemption from custom duties contribute to a saving of up to 20%.
The licensing of any new cooperative requires only 12 people. Al Tuwaim considers this a “favourable opportunity” to launch activity on a number of levels in the field of cooperative action.