Union Cooperation Minister Amit Shah said on Saturday that the Centre will soon bring amendments to the Multi State Cooperative Society Act and a new policy for the cooperatives is on the anvil. He added that the question that cooperatives are a State subject could be responded to in legal terms but the newly created Ministry will work in tandem with the States and “there will be no friction”.
The cash-rich cooperatives in many States are controlled by the Opposition parties such as the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress. The cooperatives decide political fortunes in States such as Maharashtra, Kerala, Gujarat, parts of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal.
The formation of the Ministry of Cooperation was announced on July 5 and Home Minister Amit Shah was allocated the portfolio during the Cabinet expansion.
Mr. Shah said the Centre was also planning amendments to the laws that govern the Primary Agricultural Credit Society (PACS) following which the States will be sent an advisory and they will also have to amend the relevant laws.
Easy access to credit
He said PACS should be strengthened and taken to the grassroots so that even the marginalised can avail credit. “Suppose Diwali is round the corner and someone needs ₹1,000 to celebrate the festival, he had an income two months ago but does not immediately have the money due to a medical emergency. Only PACS can help here. No bank will help, banks require documents, if the person had those papers why would he seek help from a credit society? These units extend credit on the basis of compassion,” Mr. Shah said. He added that in the next five years the government planned to increase the number of PACS from the existing 65,000 to 3 lakh across the country.
Speaking at the first Sehkarita Sammelan or National Cooperative Conference where he addressed over 2,100 representatives of different cooperatives and nearly six crore online participants, Mr. Shah said some people wondered why the Centre created this new ministry as the cooperatives are a State subject.
On the proposed new cooperative policy, Mr. Shah said a policy was brought in 2002 by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and now the Modi government will start working on a new policy.
Stressing that the cooperative movement was more relevant today than ever, Mr. Shah said cooperatives can contribute a lot in the development of the country. According to him, the cooperatives will play a crucial part in making India a $5 trillion economy.
Referring to the problems being faced by cooperatives on taxation front and other issues, Mr. Shah said he was aware of the concerns and assured that there would be no injustice towards them
“While cooperatives like IFFCO, Amul, Lijjat Papad and KRIBHCO have achieved a milestone in areas like milk and fertilisers, but there are many other areas like seed, food processing where cooperatives can tap the potential,” he said.
The Union Minister said cooperatives are operating in some form or the other in 91% of the villages in the country. There are 8.55 lakh registered cooperatives, 8.5 lakh credit cooperative societies and 7 lakh non-credit cooperative societies and over 17 national cooperatives across India.