All about Co-operatives at the Malta Institute of Accountants SMP Forum 2015
During an SMP Forum organised by the Malta Institute of Accountants on 17th April 2015, Mr Rolan Micallef Attard, a Fellow Member of the Institute, delivered a talk on co-operatives to his colleagues in the profession.
Mr Micallef Attard’s introduction included this video about cooperatives. The participants were encouraged to “experience the co-operative difference” in order to be in a better position to offer their clients the co-operative option as an alternative to partnerships and limited liability companies.
Mr Micallef Attard explained that the co-operative model has been very successful: one billion individuals are currently co-operative members world-wide. Malta lags far behind other countries. One reason for this is the mistaken and outdated idea that the co-operative model is valid only in the agricultural and fisheries sectors. Also, little or no information about the co-operative model is given to professionals who help clients choose their business model at the start-up stage.
The participants were given examples of international co-operatives that have been financially successful for many decades now, and that have an excellent record in creating job opportunities. These included producer, wholesale and retail, worker, consumer and social co-operatives. The participants were surprised to learn that some of these successful co-operatives included familiar, house-hold names, such as KPMG, John Lewis and FC Barcelona.
In recent years the co-operative movement in Malta has seen a shift from the agricultural and fisheries sectors to worker, consumer, social and service co-operatives. Statistics provided by the Malta Cooperatives Board indicate that a total of 4,800 members are currently registered in 69 cooperative societies in Malta. Of these, 3,600 members are in 18 cooperatives in the agricultural and fisheries sectors, while the rest are in the ever-growing worker, consumer, social and services co-operative sectors. In 2013, the cooperative sector in Malta registered a turnover of EUR 81 million, with a surplus of over EUR 7 million.
Mr Micallef Attard stressed that political parties, trade unions, the church and other organisations should work together to promote the cooperative model in Malta. He outlined the legislation governing cooperatives in Malta and gave an overview of the Maltese cooperative framework. A comparative analysis of the main differences between cooperatives and limited liability companies was also provided.
Finally, participants were updated on the current consultation process regarding the proposed amendments to cooperative legislation, which has been on-gong since 2010.
Mr Rolan Micallef Attard is an accountant in public practice and CEO of the Malta Co-operative Federation. He specialises in the setting-up, development, promotion and audit of co-operative societies.