Shri Pawar Calls upon States to Amend their Cooperative Acts for Compliance with 97th Constitution (Amendment) ACT
Synergy and Harmony through Cooperative Movement – Cooperatives for Inclusive Growth – Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam
Shri Sharad Pawar, Minister of Agriculture and Food Processing Industries has urged the State Governments to amend their Cooperative Acts to ensure compliance with the 97th Constitution (Amendment) Act. Addressing the National Conference on Cooperatives here today, Shri Pawar said that the Central Government has enacted this Constitution (Amendment) Act to ensure democratic, autonomous and professional functioning of the cooperatives in the country. He said that the Centre has taken a number of initiatives for laying a strong foundation for development of cooperative movement. The Agriculture Minister emphasized that unless the cooperatives develop their internal strengths in the form of professional management, enlightened and active membership, inspiring leadership and innovative vision, it will be difficult for the cooperatives to protect and maintain their identity, particularly in the present economic scenario.
On the need for restoring confidence of the people in the cooperative sector, Shri Pawar said “the issue of good governance has assumed importance as large number of cooperatives are experiencing serious problems. There is an urgent need to revamp the cooperative governance structure through necessary legal and policy reforms.” Referring to problems and challenges faced by cooperatives, he said that there are serious inadequacies in governance preventing the cooperatives to function in democratic manner, inadequate resources for modernisation and latest technology, inability to achieve higher level of professionalization required to survive in the competitive environment and dependence on the government. He said that cooperatives, by and large, suffer from dependency syndrome that has adversely affected their independence and autonomy. Most of the time this syndrome is due to restricted provisions in the cooperative laws hindering mobilisation of resources from non-governmental sources. The Agriculture Minister asked the cooperatives to aim for striking a balance between a member driven institution and an enterprise that has business function.
Shri Pawar impressed upon the State Governments to take action to expedite the implementation of package for revamping the short-term cooperative credit structure. He said “credit cooperatives have an important role to implement the policies of the government to ensure flow of credit to financially excluded farmers. This is particularly essential in Eastern States where governments are implementing a number of initiatives for substantially increasing agricultural production. Unless the farmers are extended necessary credit support from the banks as well as the credit cooperatives, such efforts will not bear fruit. This needs to be closely monitored in view of the share of cooperatives in total farm credit flow being still less than 20%.”
Shri Pawar pointed out that the cooperatives have significantly contributed in achieving the record foodgrain production of about 250 million tonnes during 2011-12. He said, cooperative system is one of the strongest pillars on which India’s agriculture and allied sector is flourishing.
Former President of India Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam in his address highlighted the idea of cooperatives as a business model. Dr. Kalam referred to the achievements of cooperatives primarily in fertilizer distribution, sugar production, dairy cooperatives, housing cooperatives, agriculture credit etc. He applauded the role played by cooperatives in national development and empowering the community. At the same time, he expressed that much needs to be done to enhance the vibrancy of cooperatives in the country and suggested some possible cooperative structures in the rural sectors which can enhance the production of food grains, pulses, vegetables, fruits and floriculture products and enable the farmer to enhance his earning capacity.
Minister of State for Agriculture Shri Harish Rawat and Secretary, Department of Agriculture & Cooperation Shri P.K.Basu also addressed the Conference.
The Conference was attended by the Principal Secretaries/Secretaries (Cooperation), Registrar of Cooperative Societies, RBI, NABARD, Chief Executives of national level cooperative organizations, MD of State Cooperatives, International Cooperative Alliance (ICA).
The Conference unanimously resolved to take immediate action in the following areas to strengthen the cooperative movement in the country –
(i) Constitution Amendment – The States will amend their cooperative societies Act in tune with the provisions of the amendments to the Constitution of India (97th Amendment) in respect of Cooperatives before 14.02.2013.
(ii) States will initiate measures for bringing in legal, institutional and systematic reforms through amendment of cooperative act.
(iii) They will take necessary measures for effective dissemination of information for improving credit flow to the farmers and ensure that all the eligible farmers are able to access institutional credit in hassle free manner.
(iv) To strengthen and revitalize the Cooperative Sector, State Governments, cooperative institutions and other stakeholders will work in close collaboration for celebration of International Year of Cooperatives – 2012.
(v) The States will create conducive environment for the facilitating flow of credit to farmers through joint liability groups, Self Help Groups of farmers for expanding the outreach of institutional credit to farmers, not being covered by institutional credit.
(vi) The States will formulate schemes for rehabilitation and reconstruction of potentially viable sick cooperatives through appropriate institutional mechanism in their States.