Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has said the Union government must change its attitude towards cooperative banks and support them because they serve the common people.
“There is a misconception that irregularities largely take place in cooperative banks,” the former Union Agriculture Minister said at a function in Pune, on January 5. Mr. Pawar was speaking at the closing ceremony of the golden jubilee of Vishweshwar Cooperative Bank Limited.
“Nationalised and scheduled banks in the country account for more than 90% of irregularities whereas cooperative sector banks account for only 0.46% of irregularities,” he said.
"I get worried when I see how the cooperative bank sector is being looked at. The Union government has invested heavily in nationalised banks. It had to be done because if money had not been infused, the health of these banks would have deteriorated," he said.
"Generally, there is a misconception that people in the cooperative sector are involved in wrongful practices....there are irregularities in the cooperative sector but if you look at the overall percentage of irregularities, you will realise that the percentage of irregularities in the nationalised and scheduled banks is 92% and the percentage of irregularities in the cooperative sector is hardly .43%. Not even 1%," Mr. Pawar claimed.
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“Cooperative banks safeguard the interest of the common people,” he added. "Therefore, the (Union government's) perspective towards cooperative sector banks should change.... if these banks face any kind of crisis, we should stand by these banks," he said.
“Maharashtra, which leads in the number of cooperative banks and is followed by Gujarat and Karnataka, has a unique position in the cooperative movement in the country,” Mr. Pawar noted.
In the past, the NCP chief had opposed amendments to the Banking Regulation Act which allowed the Reserve Bank of India to regulate cooperative banks.