Home and Cooperation Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday pitched for reforms in cooperative societies, saying the same person cannot be elected year after year and the election process has to become more transparent.
The minister was addressing an event here after the online launch of the onboarding of cooperatives on the government's e-marketplace (GeM) platform. Shah stressed the need to expand and modernise the cooperative sector, which he said, has been a "neglected" sector.
"There is a need to bring changes in the cooperative sector at a fast pace," he said. "We will have to change, else people will change us," he told top officials of cooperatives present at the event.
Shah emphasised bringing transparency in all spheres of the cooperative sector, particularly in three areas, including the election process. "Election process should be transparent. We would like to bring change in this".
Shah said an election system on the lines of the Election Commission of India will be set up to hold transparent elections for the cooperative bodies. "It is not right for the same person to get elected year after year. This arrangement is not good," the minister said.
Shah said he himself is a chairman of PACS for the last 25 years and it will be changed this year. Moreover, he said there is a need to bring transparency in the recruitment process and the ministry is framing rules for this.
Shah also spoke about the need to bring transparency in purchases and for that there is no better medium than the Government e-marketplace (GeM). On its part, the minister listed out steps the government is taking to bring reform in the cooperative sector through a holistic approach.
He said the ministry is coming up with a new cooperative policy, preparing a database, setting up a university for conducting training purposes and also establishing an export house to boost overseas shipments.
In June, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the Computerization of Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) with the objective of increasing the efficiency of PACS, bringing transparency and accountability in their operations; facilitating PACS to diversify their business and undertake multiple activities/ services.
This project proposes the computerisation of about 63,000 functional PACS over a period of 5 years with a total budget outlay of Rs 2516 crore, with a central government share of Rs 1,528 crore.
Shah said the ministry will also bring changes to the Multi-State Co-operatives Act. The minister highlighted that the taxation structure in the cooperatives has been brought to par with other companies.
The co-operative sector cannot be treated as a second fiddle now, he said. There are 8.5 crore cooperatives in the country with 29 crore members associated. Shah said there is a potential to increase this number to more than 100 crore.
He said the Modi government took the decision to create a new Ministry of Cooperation as there is huge potential in this sector for growth. Shah said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the last seven years has fulfilled all the basic needs, such as provision of house, toilets, clean water, health facility, gas cylinders, and electricity connections for 60 crores deprived.
These 60 crore people are now aspiring for better lives."They want to do something but they do not have capital," he said. Shah said cooperation is the only way to do something without much capital.
(With PTI Inputs)