The Centre on Tuesday announced a 47-member committee under former union minister Suresh Prabhu to prepare the national cooperation policy with the objective to promote cooperative-based economic development model.

The decision to set up the panel came after the Cooperation Ministry completed the discussion with stakeholders. Announcing the formation of the committee to prepare the draft policy, cooperation minister Amit Shah said “the new National Cooperative Policy is being formulated to realise the vision of ‘Sahakar Se Samriddhi’,” according to a government statement.

The committee comprises experts of the cooperative sector, representatives of national/state/district and primary cooperative societies; secretaries (cooperation) and registrars of cooperative societies of states some states and officers from central ministries.

Strengthening the movement

The country is estimated to have 8.5 lakh cooperative societies with a member base of around 29 crore, though there is no database maintained at any place which the Centre has started to gather after creation of a separate ministry.

The new policy will also help the government to strengthen the cooperative movement in the country and deepening its reach up to the grass roots by promoting cooperative-based economic development model, the statement said.

The last time the policy was formulated was in 2002 under Vajpayee government.

Objectives and provisions

In June, the Centre decided to computerise all functional 63,000 Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies (PACS) over the next five years with a budget outlay of ₹2,516 crore in order to improve efficiency, transparency and accountability in their operations. The scheme would also facilitate PACS to diversify their business and undertake multiple activities and services. The Centre has also shared a draft rules for PACS exclusively to fulfil the objective of allowing them to undertake diversified activities.

An election authority to conduct elections of Board of Directors in Multi State Cooperative Societies (MSCS), fixing a maximum age limit for chief executives, and a corpus to fund revival of sick societies are some of the provisions proposed in the MSCS (Amendment) Bill, 2022, which was scheduled for introduction in the last session of parliament but could not be taken due to closure of the session earlier than the original schedule.