The Cooperative Societies Unit (CSU) is administered by an Act of parliament and managed by a Registrar with two Deputy Registrars who are appointed by the Minister responsible for Commerce & Industry as mandated by the Cooperative Societies Act.
The principal function of the CSU is:
1. To Effect the facilitation process and provide support services for the development of the Co-operative Societies movement in PNG, particularly the primary co-operatives to harness real development amongst the rural people.
2. Also to become the main driver for implementing and growing the MSME sector through cooperatives in PNG.
The Co-operative Societies Movement was introduced in Papua New Guinea in 1947, just after World War 2 by the Colonial (Australian) Government under a legislation called the Native Societies Ordinaries which later became the Co-operative Societies Ordinance (1965).
Well over 500 Co-operative Societies were then set up around the country enabling people to plant cash crops, build retail stores of consumer necessities and obtain credit to finance activities of their respective Co-operative Societies. These were vibrant business organizations which worked well and effectively serviced the rural areas in the 1950’s, 60’s and to some extent the 70’s.
The Co-operative Societies Ordinance (1965) was then repealed in 1975 by the then House of Assemblies which showed the demise of the Co-operative Societies Movement in PNG. Co-operatives operating at that time were either transformed into companies under the Companies Act, or Business Associations under the Business Groups Act. Some Co-operatives are still in operation but may well be operating under other names or a different business structure. The Act governing the Co-operatives Societies was again re-enacted in 1981 leading to what is currently called the Co-operative Societies (Amended) Act, 1985.