Co-operative Societies and Friendly Societies in the island have all come into being with the object of bringing about an improvement in the economic and/or social life of the people who comprise their membership. The role of the Department in this effort is to assist societies to achieve this end by the application of proper co-operative techniques. It can be said, therefore, that the Department exists to assist people to improve their economic and social circumstances, by democratic mutual self-help processes: this assistance is provided through audits, inspections, training and guidance. The assistance however must be thought of as working with (rather than directing) people on projects which affect their everyday lives. On the officers of this Department is therefore placed a responsibility for the shaping the Societies they have in their care.
It is therefore the first and main task of officers of the Department to see their jobs as being primarily concerned with people and their lives, and to let the awareness of this fact be the guide in the carrying out of their every day duties.
The above is stated in spite of the Department’s responsibilities as defined in the Co-operative and Friendly Societies Acts and Regulations which are in themselves very regulatory in nature. It is precisely this reality which make the officer’s work more complex and, in a sense, more demanding.
Notwithstanding, the Officers within the Inspectorate Section are at times seen as policemen and gaolers as they endeavour to effect a very important area of the Department’s function. That of ensuring the safeness and soundness of the members’ savings and investments, through
- Inspection of records, accounts and securities and other assets of the societies, the development and implementation of improved techniques and systems to ensure proper operation of Co-operative Enterprises
- Pre-audit checks to ensure audit readiness
- Technical assistance at Board, General and Special Meetings in respect of adherence to the Act and Regulations, Rules, proper parliamentary procedures and sound management practices and principles
“To contribute to the social and economic development of the nation by facilitating the establishment and regulation of Co-operatives and Friendly Societies as viable business alternatives and effective social organizations, and protecting all stakeholders’ interests”.
“To be transformed to position Co-operatives and Friendly Societies as vibrant and viable sectors within Jamaica’s socioeconomic development by 2018.”
The Department is guided by a philosophy to understand and appreciate that its functions are concerned with the lives of people; the awareness of this fact is essential to the satisfactory performance of its duties in attaining the closest possible relationship with its clientele, in order to assist Societies to bring about the economical and social improvements desired. This philosophy coupled with the principles of co-operation and the Associated Practices adopted by the International Co-operative Alliance, with respect to the establishment and operation of Co-operative Societies, assist the Department in fulfilling its objectives.
The principles and practices listed below also influence Friendly Societies, which are essentially co-operative in nature.
- Voluntary and Open Membership
- Democratic Membership Control
- Members Economic Participation
- Autonomy and Independence
- Education, Training and Information
- Co-operation among Co-operatives
- Concern for Community