Alternative Economic Systems in Asia: Challenges of Community Currency Systems

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Alternative Economic Systems in Asia: Challenges of Community Currency Systems
Auteur(s): Jose Tongzon, Masahiro Kawai, Asako Shimazaki, Revrisond Baswir
Taal: Engels
Type: Rapport
Trefwoorden: geld, geldsystemen, maatschappij, toekomst, economie, rente, business, financieel, LETS, Ithaca Hours
Pagina's: 92
Download: Alternative Economic Systems in Asia: Challenges of Community Currency Systems

Note from Rolf Schroeder: This is a very profound documentation. Major Contributions are:

  • Project Overview: Jose Tongzon
  • Community Currencies in Japan: Kawai, Masahiro; Shimazaki, Asako
  • Community Currencies in Indonesia: Problems and Opportunities: Baswir, Revrisond
  • A Case Study of Local Exchange: A Case Study of Thailand: Puntasen, Apichai; Piamphongsant, Preecha; Boonyarattanasoontorn, Jaturong, Sodarak, Jarupa; Pruthiarenun; Chanarun
  • Opportunities and Challenges of Community Currency Systems: The Case of Bia Kud Chum: Pichpongsa, Wanlop; Khlangpukhiaw, Pornpita

Executive Summary

The Community Currency System (CCS) project organized by the Asian Media Information & Communication Centre (AMIC) and supported by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF) proved to be a success. Among its most important contributions, the project triggered the start of real dialogue between government officials and the CCS community in Thailand to resolve issues affecting the ban against the CCS initiative in the Kud Chum district.

The project had two major components, research work and the consultation meeting in Bangkok. For three months, researchers/scholars from Japan, Indonesia and Thailand generated information and analysis about the state of CCS in their respective countries, its strengths and weaknesses, problem areas and challenges amidst the forces of globalization, trade liberalization, and financial crisis, and the demands for greater economic self-sufficiency and growth in the region.

In Japan, CCS activities have grown since 1990s as communities endeavor to strengthen community relations. Some 200 CCS projects are now in operation providing mostly services in the area of welfare, healthcare, environmental conservation and cultural activity. CCS proliferation has been due, among others, to the loss of community level relationship among the citizens arising from industrialization and migration from the rural to the urban areas. The Japanese experience indicated that for CCS to be successful the project must have clear goals and must tailor them to the specific needs of the community. The government has not interfered in the creation and operation of CCS as the number is insignificant to affect the Japanese currency and impact the mainstream financial and economic environment.

In Thailand, CCS began in the Kud Chum district in the northeast. Initial workshops to explain the CCS concept started in 1999 with the support of the Thai NGOs, Canadian University Service Overseas (CUSO) and the Japan Foundation among others. Five villages participated using the local currency called Bia to exchange goods and services among members of the community. It showed much promise until the government raised regulatory concerns following media reports about CCS intentions and operations. Investigations followed and NGOs claimed that police authorities used threats and intimidation to discourage CCS operation, which was subsequently suspended.

The Bank of Thailand and the Ministry of Finance declared the issuance of the Bia as contrary to existing banking laws. The CCS leaders pursued dialogues with various government agencies to negotiate for the lifting of the ban against the CCS operation. Dr. Apichai, the Thai researcher, is spearheading a movement towards this end. His first recommendation was to change CCS into Community Exchange System (CES) to reduce any misunderstanding. Other proposals have been put forward to ensure that the project does not violate any existing laws, among them: Restrict the local exchange to a local territory, the local currency (Bia) must not resemble the Thai Baht, and must not be used to buy the Thai Baht.

In Indonesia, the CCS initiatives have been in the preparatory stage. Several NGOs held workshops with local communities in West Nusa Tenggara, West Java, Yogyakarta and East Nusa Tenggara from 1999 to 2001. Participants recognized CCS as an alternative to help reduce poverty in the local communities. However, concerns were raised about unclear CCS concepts, unsupportive political situation and policies, limited knowledge and skills to implement and compete against other alternatives, and lack of support from civil societies. To better understand CCS future in Indonesia, it is necessary to look at its national politics and its support for rural community livelihood, the degree of local autonomy and financial support to villages, and impact on agrarian reform.

On February 20-22, 2002, some 23 delegates including researchers and resource persons from the three Asian countries met in Bangkok, Thailand to discuss the results of the research work. Dr. Jose Tongzon of the Faculty of Economics, National University of Singapore, who served as project director, provided an overview, highlighting the rational and importance of CCS, its benefits and challenges. Delegates agreed that the CCS is an effective toll in strengthening community-based relations. It should compliment not supplement the national currency.

The delegates also recommended some initiatives to deepen understanding of CCS. Among them were to pursue research work on issues such as the various local exchange systems being used to promote self-reliance, mechanisms of CCS to promote sustainable economic development and protect local communities form external factors, and the extent of consistency between CCS and traditional economic structure, among others.

The delegates also recommended that regional exchanges of information and networking among people be involved in CCS be encouraged, that more conferences on CCS involving as many sectors as possible be pursued and that a book containing the consultation documents be published. They also expressed deep gratitude to Sasakawa Peace Foundation for supporting the project, which triggered a series of dialogue among parties concerned to deepen their understanding of CCS and consider the impact of CCS in local communities such as the experience in the Bia Kud Chum District.