The Draft Co-operative policy has recommended a legal framework and favours a level playing field for co-operatives to strengthen them. It has also suggested setting up a special fund to assist “sick” co-operatives and provide support for reviving/strengthening co-operatives and for building infrastructure.

The Suresh Prabhu-led panel held its first regional stakeholders consultation for the northern region on Tuesday and is likely to submit the report in the next 15 days, sources said. Many of the recommendations are already under implementation or are in the pipeline, the sources said.

Among other recommendations, the panel has said the government should set up all-India level entities for rural and urban co-operative banking sector for its internal financial stability and help ensure adequate credit support to sector enterprises. Among some innovative ideas, the panel wants Export Oriented Units (EOUs) and Co-operative Economic Zones (CEZs) should be set up to boost exports in the sector, similar to Special Economic Zone (SEZ), sources said.

There is also a need to handhold co-operatives for global collaborations through exclusive trade corridors, the committee said.

Moots poll authority

Sources also said the panel has recommended setting up a co-operative election authority, which has been already incorporated in amending the Multi-State Cooperative Act earlier this year. Similarly, the suggestion to establish a National Cooperative University (NCU) has already been announced by Cooperation Minister Amit Shah.

At the stakeholders consultation meeting on New National Cooperation Policy 2023 held at Gurugram, near New Delhi, more than 60 participants discussed various nuances of the draft policy, sources said. In his address, Prabhu highlighted that several steps have been taken to strengthen the co-operative sector.

He hoped that the recommended policy would provide a framework to strengthen and deepen the co-operative movement.

The Centre has taken several steps in past few months such as the computerisation of PACs, model bye-laws for PACS to enable them to take up various activities and the establishment of three national-level multi-state co-operatives, each for export, organic products and seeds.

Among others, Satish Marathe, Director, on the Board of RBI, said the training facilities are to be enhanced with training modules to reach the grassroot level. Prakash Naiknavare, Managing Director of National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories, said that strengthening of PACs by computerisation is of immense help for these co-operative societies. Hema Yadav, Director of Pune-based VAMNICOM presented some highlights of the policy, sources said.