The Conference of Cooperative Ministers of States and Union Territories was organised in New Delhi on 2011 April 20 unanimously resolved to take immediate steps for revitalising the cooperative sector which is facing the challenge of tough competition on the one hand and government issues on the other.
The Conference has been organised in the backdrop of United Nations Declaration to observe 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives.
The Conference was attended by the State Cooperation Ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, J&K, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Orissa, Puducherry, Rajasthan, and Tripura.
The Conference noted the valuable contributions made by Cooperatives in different sectors of Indian economy particularly in rural credit, agriculture input and production, agro-processing, storage, marketing, consumer, fertilizer, dairy, fishery, housing etc. The widespread coverage and diversified business activities of cooperatives have made numerous success stories and provided immense possibilities and ample opportunities for the people, particularly those from the weaker sections in the hither to unserviced areas.
Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar addressing the Conference 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 grow in the current economic scenario.
He was also of the view that the cooperatives should be considered essentially as an economic enterprises which should be member driven institutions. The Minister apprised the State Ministers that the Government of India has initiated various measures to reform the cooperatives to make them vibrant, viable and democratic institutions with active participation of members to enable them to face the challenges of competitive global economy.
Minster of State Shri Arun Yadav highlighted the emerging issues, significant for improving the performance of the cooperative sector. He emphasized the need to restore the democratic character of cooperatives both in management and in business process as the cooperatives are essentially people’s movement. He requested the State Ministers to pursue the cooperative reform agenda vigorously.
Agriculture Secretary, Shri P.K. Basu apprised the Conference about the challenges being faced by the cooperatives and emphasized the need for restoring people’s confidence in Cooperative sector. Besides, the issue of good governance in cooperatives also needs to get its due importance.
The cooperatives need to devise a system of cooperative corporate governance for ensuring quality service to their members. He urged the Ministers to recognize the importance of cooperatives and explore their full potential to achieve its goals.
The steps taken by Union Government to reform the cooperative sector were supported by the State Ministers of Cooperation, who assured that the State Governments would take necessary action to make the cooperatives in their State become economically viable to serve their members more effectively.
The Conference expressed their concern on the present challenges and constraints being faced by cooperatives mainly on account of competitive and dynamic market environment. Besides, it was also felt that cooperatives have inherent weaknesses which have also affected their functioning.
A unanimous view emerged for continuous support from Government to the cooperatives to make them autonomous and member driven institutions through appropriate legal and policy reforms.
The Conference unanimously resolved to take action in the following areas to strengthen the cooperative movement in the country: –
(i) Government of India and the States may take steps for early passage of the Constitution (111th Amendment) Bill, 2009.
(ii) States may initiate measures for bringing in legal, institutional and systemic reforms on the lines of recommendations made by High Powered Committee on Cooperatives.
(iii) States may take steps to accelerate the pace of implementation of revival package for short term cooperative credit structure for having robust cooperative credit institutions in the State for enhancing credit flow to the farmers.
(iv) Government of India and the States will constitute appropriate institutional mechanism to facilitate revival and rehabilitation of sick cooperatives.
(v) To strengthen and revitalize the cooperative sector, Government of India, States, cooperative institutions and other stake holders will work in close collaboration to take various measures and initiatives in the International Year of Cooperatives, 2012.
(vi)The States will create conducive environment for facilitating growth of micro-finance institutions and joint liability groups for expanding the outreach of institutional credit to farmers.
(vii) Ministry of Finance may be requested to consider grant of exemption from income tax in respect of cooperative societies.
The Conference concluded with a pledge to restore the credibility and dignity of cooperatives so that the cooperatives become autonomous, self reliant, democratic, and accountable to members and fulfil the expectations of its members and other stakeholders.