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Financial Pillar Shows Challenges & Hopes of Co-ops

DAVAO CITY – One of the highlights of the 14th National Cooperative Summit was the Financial Pillar Presentation.  The Financial Pillar is considered to be the most “liquid” sector of the cooperative, delving into financial services.
The Finance Pillar is composed of co-op banks, co-op insurance co-ops, and other primary cooperatives that provide financial services.
Chief Presentor in the discussions was NATCCO CEO Sylvia O. Paraguya, giving all the participants her view on the current situation.  
According to Paraguya, the national Government’s thrust is that all Filipinos “effective access to a wide range of financial services.  This thrust is spearheaded by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), which launched in 2015 its Financial Inclusion Strategy.  The aim is to provide every Filipino access to formal (i.e. regulated) financial services to improve the economy.
In the process, this has opened the finance sector to all stakeholders – banks, pawnshops, microfinance NGOs, and of course, cooperatives.
She set forth the following: Philippines is third in remittances, 64% of population are millennials but few are involved in co-ops, small co-ops are struggling, weak co-op regulation, co-ops are competing with one another and even serving as agents of commercial banks, co-ops have different software, technology is imperative, banks and even NGOs are into microfinance.
The Philippine Cooperative Center is composed of several so-called “Pillars” in the cooperative sector: Producers and Marketing, Service Pillar, Education & Advocacy, and the Financial Pillar.
The following were the Reactors: MASS-SPECC CEO Bernadette Toledo, CLIMBS President Noel Raboy , 1 CISP President Roy Miclat, and Metro South Cooperative Bank President Renelia Estioko. 
Raboy gave the first salvo: “The challenge now is how to recruit millennials into the co-op sector.  As an organization, CLIMBS has focused on Productivity Management in the last 47 years, and now we are going in Creativity Management.”
On the regulations governing co-ops, Miclat stressed: “Regulation works both ways.  It is double-edged.  It makes you disciplined in your operations.  Whether ou have regulation or self-regulation or government regulation, you must have discipline.   You can regulate co-ops but if they will not follow, then it defeats the purpose.”
Estioko said: “Primary Co-ops do not patronize co-op banks.  Leaders are angry when members do not patronize the co-op.  We even say “Members that do not patronize the co-ops are not needed in the co-op!”  But there are many co-op leaders that do not patronize co-op banks!”
Toledo hit the nail on the head, saying: “There is a need of cooperatives to leverage our collective resources, to explore better market opportunities, expand our social capital, influence coop-related policy decisions, contribute to the attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and have a positive impact in our local communities as well as the global community.”
In the conclusion, Paraguya synthesized all that was discussed, stressing clearly that co-ops must adopt cooperative-provided technology to meet competition.

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