Spotlight Interviews with Co-operators

Melih Toprak and Fatih Polattimur, Trade Experts at the Turkish Ministry of Trade

“Spotlight Interviews with Co-operators” is a series of interviews with cooperators from around the world with whom ILO officials have crossed paths during the course of their work on cooperatives and social and solidarity economy (SSE). On this occasion, ILO interviewed Melih Toprak and Fatih Polattimur, Trade Experts at the Ministry of Trade, on the significance of the recent amendments on Turkish Cooperatives Code for statistics of cooperatives.

Article | 18 mai 2022
Mr Fatih Polattimur

What is the gist of the amendments on Turkish Cooperative Code with respect to statistics?

On October 2021, Turkey has adopted a new legislation that brought wide range of reforms on cooperatives by amending articles of Cooperatives Code (No 1163).

The new law sets forth a number of provisions notably required education programs, external audits for large-scale cooperatives, online attendance to general assemblies and immunity from trade registry fees for specific cooperatives. A main area of reform put forward by the law is the Information System for Cooperatives (ISC) which aims to provide online services for cooperatives.

The ISC is a web-based e-government application, that will improve quality of administrative data of cooperatives in Turkey. It will meet the need of a central database that contains accurate and up-to-date data on all cooperatives nationwide.

All cooperatives and government authorities related to cooperatives will use the application to carry out official procedures online. Three different Ministries are currently responsible for cooperatives according to their main sectors of activity: The Ministry of Trade, the Ministry Agriculture and Forestry and the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change. It is envisaged that ISC will digitize main contracts, partnership records, general assembly documents and financial information on cooperatives. It is expected to result in benefits regarding transparency, accountability, democratic control and partners’ right to information in cooperatives.

Executive board members of each cooperative will be responsible by law to manage digital records of their cooperatives via ISC. A cooperative will need to upload its annual activity and audit reports, financial documents to ISC before a general assembly in order to present these documents for inspection to its members. Moreover, only the members who are listed on ISC will be able to attend general assemblies of their cooperatives.

How will ISC contribute to data collection and data management on cooperatives?

It is going to be important for statistics to provide insights into employment and work in cooperatives and the economic contribution of cooperatives. Such aspects of statistics on cooperatives will require strong coordination between relevant parties. Clearly having a legal framework and a central database facilitates efforts in advancing statistics on cooperatives. Further work on terminology, classification, and meta-data will be needed to start coordinating the relevant parties.

Mr Melih Toprak

What are some of the key national efforts on statistics of cooperatives in the country and what are envisioned next steps in advancing statistics of cooperatives?

Efforts have already been put in motion for multistakeholder consultations on statistics of cooperatives in Turkey. The Ministry of Trade has been working on statistics of cooperatives as outlined in the National Cooperative Strategy and Action Plan of 2012-2016. In addition, between 2015 and 2017 the Ministry of Trade co-led efforts along with the National Statistical Institute (TURKSTAT) through a working group that was initiated by the ILO. The members of the working group included representatives from three related ministries, the revenue administration, social security administration and national cooperative unions with related database initiatives. As a first order of business the working group members focused on inclusion of statistics on cooperatives in TURKSTAT’s Official Statistics Programme. Toward that end, the working group carried out a detailed programme which includes determining data collection methods and preparing draft meta-data for cooperative statistics. Ministry of Trade and TURKSTAT will continue to work in collaboration on statistics of cooperatives in the light of the new cooperative legislation.

During this period the Ministry of Trade and TURKSTAT have also been a part of the ILO’s initiative on statistics of cooperatives. They contributed to the development of the international guidelines concerning statistics of cooperatives adopted at the 20th International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS) in 2018. In moving forward, they will be a part of the National Advisory Committee (NAC) that will be launched in June 2022 and work on evaluating and making recommendations on the Guidelines concerning Statistics of Cooperatives. At the same time a national working group initiated by TURKSTAT will study statistics of cooperatives as part of its 2022 - 2026 Official Statistics Programme. The NAC efforts will also closely follow the quality criteria of TURKSTAT’s official statistics programme which is compatible with EUROSTAT standards.

In the process leading up to the 20th International Conference of Labour Statisticians, the ILO and COPAC had launched a series of briefs to understand the ways in which countries around the world are producing and using statistics on cooperatives. The brief for Turkey can be found here in English and Turkish.