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Legislation gets thumbs-up from community co-op

East Clare Community Cooperative has said new legislation recently introduced to ease the regulatory burden on co-operative societies is a step in the right direction.

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, published the legislation, which is aimed at easing the ­regulatory burden on co-operative societies and making it easier to start up and run a co-op as an alternative form of enterprise organisation.

It follows the introduction in December last year of reductions of 33-80% in the fees for business transacted with the Register of Friendly Societies, who registers co-operative societies.

This legislation is primarily aimed at easing the regulatory burden on co-operative societies and making it easier to run a co-operative as an alternative form of enterprise organisation.

Commenting about the legislation Graham Lightfoot, of East Clare Community Cooperative said, “We welcome the proposals contained in the Bill as it will reduce the time spent on administrative activities and ease the way in which co-ops are regulated.”

Meanwhile, Fionnuala Collins, also of the co-op, added that the big reduction in costs would enable co-ops to look at amending or partially amending their rules where the costs may have been prohibitive in the past.

“Cooperatives may in the future provide a sensible and realistic alternative to existing structures for the creation of social and micro enterprises where the focus is on sharing of resources instead of competing for them. Co-ops need recognition and support and the proposals in this bill provide a definite step in the right direction,” she said.

The legislation takes on board many of the issues raised by the co-operative sector itself as being areas of difficulty or constraint for the sector. It allows individual societies to set their own limit on individual shareholdings in the society; it will help ease financial reporting restrictions by extending the period for the preparation and submission of the annual return and accounts; make it easier for cancelled societies to be restored to the register; and ease fundraising restrictions for non-agricultural societies.

In addition, the legislation will make the Examinership process, currently available only to companies, an option for co-operative societies, which might find themselves in difficulties.

Publishing the legislation, Minister Bruton said “If we are to sustain the progress we have made in the economy and create jobs we will have to continue working hard to reduce business costs and red tape.
“A crucial part of this will be to reduce those costs and red tape, which are directly under the control of government.”

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