Cooperation ministry to host 2-day conference next week

Days after a Parliamentary Standing Committee advised it to “exercise utmost prudence” while chalking out activities so that the country’s federal features are not “impinged upon”, the newly created cooperation ministry is launching a consultation process on its proposed new policy.

On April 12, the ministry will begin hosting a two-day national conference that will see both central and state officials offer feedback on the policy, which aims to widen the reach of cooperatives to the grassroots and strengthen the cooperative sector.

The Centre plans to finalise the new policy by the end of the 2022-23 fiscal.

Cooperation Minister Amit Shah will inaugurate the conference. Shah had last year announced to replace the existing cooperation policy, created in 2002 by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government.

The Centre had recently written to states and other stakeholders asking for suggestions on the new policy. An official said: “We have received 54 suggestions regarding the new cooperation policy. Of these, 10 suggestions have come from the concerned central ministries, 20 from states and the remaining have come from federations.”

These suggestions will also be discussed during the conference, the official added.

According to a statement issued by the ministry on Friday, the conference will see discussions on six themes covering issues such as “legal framework, identification of regulatory policy, operational barriers and measures required for their removal, ease of doing business, level playing field to cooperatives, account keeping & auditing, promoting entrepreneurship, training and education, social cooperatives and role of cooperatives in social security”.

Among those central officials attending will be the secretaries of three key departments – Agriculture, Rural and Textiles – the statement said.

“More than two dozen central ministries represented by secretaries and joint secretaries, all state governments and Union Territories represented by their chief secretaries, additional chief secretaries, principal secretaries and registrar cooperatives and heads of around 40 cooperative and other major national institutions will participate in this conference,” it added.

According to the statement, the ministry is planning a series of such conferences with different stakeholders, besides, shortly, another workshop with all cooperative federations to invite their views.

“These efforts will culminate in the formulation of a new robust National Cooperation Policy, giving impetus to strengthen the cooperative based economic model in the country to realise the vision and mantra of Sahkar Se Samaridhi…” the statement said.

In its report tabled in Lok Sabha on March 24, 2022, the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Food Processing, headed by BJP member P C Gaddigoudar, had observed that the subject ‘Cooperative Societies’ is a State subject included in Item 32 of List-II (State List) in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.

It had said, “The Cooperative Societies registered under the State Cooperation Societies Acts are governed by the concerned Registrars of Cooperative Societies. Many Cooperative Institutions have also been set up under the State Cooperative Laws for the promotion of Cooperative Societies.”

“Taking into account all these factors, the committee, while lauding the efforts and initiatives of the government for strengthening the Cooperative Movement in the country, express the view that the Ministry of Cooperation shall exercise utmost prudence in chalking out its Activities / Schemes / Programmes at National Level so that the federal features of country are not impinged upon and all the stakeholders in the Cooperative Sector are duly benefited,” the committee had added.

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