The Ministry of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce has a Cooperative Societies Appeals Tribunal, which is being chaired by Attorney-at-Law, Anthony Reece.
Minister Dwight Sutherland today announced the Cabinet approved three-member tribunal during a press briefing at his Warrens office, which according to him, will act as “an arbitration body and adjudicate on matters as it relates to members of the cooperatives society”.
The deputy chairperson is Hally Haynes and the other member is Davidson Ishmael. The three members of the tribunal will be in place for a period of three years and “brings with them a wealth of experience…fitting to lead any arbitration or any dispute that will arise from time to time among the members of the cooperatives”, Minister Sutherland said.
Noting that the Cooperatives Department, which falls under the ministry, was established in 1961 to regulate and promote the development of cooperatives in Barbados, Minister Sutherland stated: “We see this model as critical to Government’s mandate in building out our economy.”
Mr. Sutherland also gave a brief background to the history of cooperatives in Barbados, noting that the first cooperative, Shamrock Cooperative, was formed in 1947.
“The whole thrust behind cooperatives was as an enfranchisement model to give working class people the opportunity to join their resources together to create wealth,” Minister Sutherland explained.
He added within the cooperatives model, numbers matter, and as with any organization challenges and difference of opinions will arise. Under Section 171(1) of the Cooperatives Societies Act CAP 378A when any dispute that relates to the business of a society arises, any party to the dispute may refer it to the registrar for a decision.
According to Section 172 (3A) of the Act, if the registrar is unable to dispute the matter himself, or if any person is aggrieved by a decision of the registrar, he or she may appeal to the Cooperative Societies Appeal Tribunal, which the minister said would be a “key cog in the wheel in building out cooperatives successfully…to ensure that any challenges would be dealt with outside of the court of law”.
Currently, there are 25 non-financial cooperatives and 39 friendly societies.