The government of India has envisaged the introduction of new schemes to strengthen cooperative societies from the financial year 2022-23 onwards, Union Cooperation Minister Amit Shah told Parliament on Wednesday. In his written reply to the Upper House, Shah said that currently, there is only one scheme, namely the Central Sector Integrated Scheme on Agricultural Cooperation (CSISAC), for the promotion and development of the cooperative sector across the country.
Under CSISAC, assistance is given to National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC), Cooperative Education and Training; and National Cooperative Federation, he said.
"With the formation of a new ministry, the introduction of new schemes from the financial year 2022-23 onwards is envisaged," Shah said.
The new Ministry of Cooperation was created in July 2021 to strengthen the cooperative movement in the country.
Shah further said the new ministry has already started functioning. National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC), which is a statutory corporation and National Council for Cooperative Training (NCCT), a registered society falls under the administrative control of the ministry.
In the Budget 2022, the government has proposed an allocation of Rs 900 crore for the cooperation ministry.
Shah, responding to another query, said the government aims to achieve overall prosperity in the country through the mantra of 'Sahakar Se Samriddhi' (prosperity through cooperation).
It is being proposed to strengthen cooperatives by bringing transparency, modernisation and creating competitiveness, he said.
In order to achieve this, the minister said the government is formulating a new National Cooperation Policy. For this, it has started consultations with various stakeholders including various ministries/ departments of central governments, state governments, Cooperative Federations, NABARD and other major cooperative institutions of the country.
The government intends to work in tandem with the states and, accordingly, has started wide consultations with them on various issues related to the cooperatives, he said.
"For instance, inputs and suggestions on the proposed New Cooperation Policy have so far been received from 35 stakeholders, including 10 ministries and six state governments," he said.
These joint efforts of central and state governments may lead to the development of effective policies and schemes and also their smooth implementation eventually leading to the increase in productivity in the rural areas, he added.
Responding to a query if the government has developed a system to maintain classified data on the cooperatives, the minister said that currently, there is no updated authentic data repository about cooperatives, their activities, their members, their financial details, etc, available with the central government.
"However, the government is planning to develop a national database for cooperatives and is accordingly engaged in consultations with stakeholders," he said.
On plans to strengthen the financial health of cooperative banks, the minister said the proposed project for the computerisation of PACS (Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies) is expected to bring efficiency and accountability to the rural credit system in the country.
Replying to another question, Shah said the COVID-19 pandemic extensively affected all sectors including cooperatives.
"No specific study has been done to assess the impact of the pandemic on the cooperative sector in India," he said.
Mr. Shah added that, however, the Centre has given COVID-19 relief through various measures/ packages from time to time to mitigate challenges faced by different sectors.