Union Home and Cooperation Minister Shri Amit Shah addressed the National Conference of Rural Co-operative Banks in New Delhi today. Shri Amit Shah also presented awards to outstanding State Co-operative Banks, District Central Co-operative Banks and Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS). Several dignitaries including the Minister of State for Cooperation, Shri B.L. Verma were present on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri Amit Shah said national conferences help create a common thrust area between PACS and cooperative banks running on the principle of co-operation in different areas, and the cooperative movement will only expand when everyone’s thrust area will be common. He said many banks, District Cooperative Banks and PACS are working in different ways on the basis of cooperative principle in different sectors. If their thrust area is not common in trying to expand the cooperative sector and also its reach and to increase farmers’ prosperity and that of the agriculture sector and the Nation, then proper results will not be visible.
The Union Minister of Cooperation, said the cooperative movement in India has many achievements to its credit during its almost 120 years old history. He said in some States the cooperative movement has progressed in every field, in some other States the cooperative movement is struggling while in yet in some other States the the cooperative movement has remained only in the books. If the cooperative movement is to develop uniformly and increase its scope, then a different strategy will have to be devised. Shri Shah said under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Government of India has taken a very important decision by creating the Ministry of Cooperation. He said keeping in mind the cooperative picture of the entire country, the Ministry of Cooperation can do much by taking the States along in the spirit of cooperatives.
Shri Amit Shah said along with strengthening the agriculture credit framework, it also needs to be reformed. There is need to work on taking cooperatives to every sector and agricultural credit should only be available through this. Today Shri Narendra Modi is the Prime Minister and there can be no better time than now to expand the cooperative sector and make it prosperous. Shri Shah said the vision of the Prime Minister is to bring inclusive economic growth by involving the poorest person and the economic development of the poorest person and this can only be undertaken by the cooperative sector.
The Union Home and Cooperation Minister said there are about 8.5 lakh cooperative societies in the country, out of which there are 1.78 lakh different types of credit societies. In the field of agricultural credit, there are 34 state cooperative banks with more than 2,000 branches, 351 district cooperative banks with 14,000 branches and about 95,000 PACS. If we look at all these together, then we can see that those whole built the cooperative sector have left a strong base and there should be a resolve to build a strong structure on this foundation in the year of the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.
Shri Amit Shah said PACS are the soul of the cooperative agricultural credit system and under the leadership of Shri Narendra Modi, PACS are being made more transparent and empowered by computerization and till this work is not completed, the system of agricultural credit will not work well and along with this it is also very important to increase their scope. There are three lakh panchayats in the country and out of the total 95,000 PACS, 65,000 are functioning well, yet there are about two lakh panchayats where PACS does not exist. The first task of all state and district co-operative banks should be to prepare a five-year strategy of having a PACS in every panchayat. Every district cooperative bank should have a five-year strategy on how PACS can be formed in their areas, in every panchayat and every state cooperative bank should monitor this strategy and NABARD should also confirm this strategy with its various schemes. After the formation of the Ministry of Cooperation, the first plan brought by the Government of India is that PACS should be computerized, and PACS, District and State Cooperative Banks should be linked online. Computerization of PACS will automatically upgrade their human resource, prudential norms of finance will automatically be applied to PACS, audit arrangements will be automatically integrated into the accounting system and alerts will be issued automatically. Computerization can be successful only when District Cooperative Banks take it to the very bottom most level. He said many States have completed computerization, but there is no uniformity. It is very important to bring the agriculture credit system in the country under a common software. He said reforms have to start from within cooperatives and if there is improvement and transparency in their administration, then there will be no injustice done to cooperative banks or PACS.
The Union Minister of Cooperation said the scope of work of PACS will have to be increased, efforts will have to be made to bring more farmers under the purview of PACS. PACS work with the philosophy of providing finance to farmers through a humane approach, therefore there should be an effort to increasingly connect farmers with PACS.
The farmer needs finance with a humane approach. He said professionalism will also have to be brought into PACS, today there is no village where there are no educated children, where there is no computer savvy youth. We also have to strengthen the Human Resource policy for upgradation of skills of employees of PACS. Shri Shah said the government led by Shri Narendra Modi is strengthening PACS by bringing a Model By-Laws as well as making PACS multipurpose by increasing their viability. The Government of India has prepared and sent its model By-laws to the States and suggestions were sought from almost all State Cooperative Banks, District Cooperative Banks and many cooperative institutions and State governments, on which decisions will be taken in the next fortnight. The model bylaws of PACS are available on the website of the Ministry of Cooperation, has asked those gathered at the conference to study them and send suggestions to the Ministry of Cooperation. Such an initiative has been taken after a long time to ensure that all PACS have the same model By-laws. Cooperative representatives should both participate and cooperate in this initiative, only then will the By-laws become perfect. Many types of arrangements will be automatically done in these By-laws. With the introduction of these new By-laws, the PACS will not just finance agriculture, but many new areas will be opened to make them more viable. For example, gas, water distribution, PCOs, storage and FPO work can be done by PACS. By including 22 such new works in the new bylaws of PACS, the Government of India has sent them to everyone for suggestions. If these arrangements are properly undertaken, then making 3 lakh PACS viable will not be a challenge. As the PACS grow and become stronger, District and State Cooperative Banks will automatically become stronger. He said if a base of 3 lakh PACS is created, then no one can stop the cooperative sector from expanding.
Shri Amit Shah said the Government of India also has a plan to expand rural cooperative banks, which are called ‘Kheti Banks’ in many places. Today, rural cooperative banks provide direct finance to farmers and now it is being considered that rural cooperative banks can also disburse medium and long term finance through PACS. He said much good work in the field of cooperatives has taken place in the last 100 years, but that is not enough. In the year of the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, there should be resolve that by doing better than what we have done in the next 100 years, the cooperative movement should be strengthened to last for years to come. There are about 13 crore members in PACS, out of which 5 crore members take loans and PACS disburse loans of over Rs 2 lakh crore every year. He said if PACS increase 5 fold, then Rs. 2 lakh crore figure can reach Rs. 10 lakh crore. The aime should be disbursal of Rs. 10 lakh crore agricultural finance through cooperatives. He said a provision for sick PACS has also been suggested to the States in the By-laws. New PACS should be created by liquidating the sick PACS. Farmers should not be deprived of the benefits of cooperatives and provision will have to be made in the By-laws and cooperative laws of States for creation of new PACS, only then will the figure of three lakh PACS be achieved.
The Union Cooperation Minister said that from 1992 to 2022 finances of cooperatives have declined and it is a matter of concern for all that agriculture finance through cooperatives is decreasing. He said that the Ministry of Cooperation has taken many initiatives. A cooperative university will be set-up, a database is being created so that it can show where the cooperative movement has room to expand. An export house which will give a good platform to export the products of various types of co-operative societies from PACS to APACS is also being envisaged. Thought is also being given to making arrangements for marketing of agricultural organic products under the brand name of Amul. Along with this, a platform is also being prepared for arranging a new type of dialogue in cooperatives. A strong communication platform will also be built from village to district and State to Delhi. Recently it has also been decided to purchase from GeM through PACS. This will facilitate transparency in PACS. A Cooperative Policy is also being drafted, on which work is in progress. Norms and a work culture should be developed to make conferences such as the one being held today result oriented. He said all stakeholders have done much for the cooperative movement so far and there is a strong foundation of cooperatives and the task of building a strong building on this foundation will be undertaken over the next 25 years from the year of the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav to the Centenary of our Independence, as well as to fulfill our goal of three lakh PACS, work should begin from today.