Take Full Control of the Coop
An Email for the Northern Dispatch Editors & Readers
I read with more than passing interest the news on the BENECO status debate.
I think the position of Tongtongan Ti Umili (TTU) has more merits to it than that of the BENECO management especially because TTU links the BENECO issue to the necessity of nationalizing the power industry instead of privatizing it.
The key there, as correctly pointed out by the TTU spokesperson, is to register the coop with the CDA so that the coop could be freed from the control of the NEA which, in not a few instances, has exercised its “martial law” powers to the disadvantage of the consumers. Registering with the CDA will also give it exemptions from various taxes which will be reflected in reduced electric bills.
Unfortunately, the present EPIRA allows conversion only to a stock cooperative which can be registered with the CDA. But even with this provision, a stock coop can still declare in its bylaws a maximum limit to the amount of stock that any one member can have and which should be affordable to everyone. This will bar a member from having a controlling share and will also allow everybody to be a member.
At the same time the members can also decide to limit the profit to a token percentage only; they may even decide to assign that amount to an additional fund for the upgrade of the coop so that reduced rates can be enjoyed by the member-consumers. Thus, the coop continues to be service-oriented rather than profit-oriented which the privatization policy of the EPIRA wants to promote.
There is another aspect to coop life that should not overlooked – the education of the member-consumers as to their rights and obligations as members of the cooperatives.
Only a coop whose members are active and vigilant can insure that the coop will not be controlled by politicians and businessmen who see in coops great opportunities for material gain and political leverage. TTU and similar civic-minded organizations are presently doing well in the information drive about their coop and they could very well do this on a long-term basis.
Would it not be a fine thing if the consumers themselves take full control of the coop that supplies them with the electricity that lights up their homes and makes their lives more enjoyable?