Lok Sabha passes multi-state cooperative societies (Amendment) Bill

One of the key provisions of the bill is the establishment of an Election Authority responsible for conducting fair elections, similar in power to the Election Commission, with no government interference.

| Updated: 26 July, 2023 9:04 pm IST

NEW DELHI: The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Multi-State Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2022, which aims to bring about significant reforms in multi-state cooperative societies. Union Home Minister and Minister of Cooperation, Amit Shah, believes that the bill will enhance transparency, accountability, and profitability in these societies.

One of the key provisions of the bill is the establishment of an Election Authority responsible for conducting fair elections, similar in power to the Election Commission, with no government interference. Additionally, the bill addresses the issue of vacancies in the Board by mandating fresh elections for one-third vacant posts. It also focuses on discipline in board meetings and smooth functioning of cooperative societies.

To promote transparency in governance, the bill introduces a provision to give majority to equity shareholders. Furthermore, it ensures representation of marginalized sections by reserving positions for one Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe member and one woman in the committees.

Addressing issues of compliance, the bill stipulates that non-compliance with constitutional requirements can lead to disqualification of board members. To avoid nepotism in employee recruitment, the bill prohibits the employment of blood or distant relatives.

Union Home Minister, Amit Shah, underscored the significance of cooperatives in India, acknowledging their contribution to the nation’s growth. He emphasized that the cooperative movement, spanning 115 years, has given birth to important enterprises like Amul, Kribhco, and IFFCO, generating employment opportunities for millions of people.

Shah highlighted that despite the cooperative movement’s importance, it was overlooked for the past 75 years, with no serious parliamentary discussions at the national or state levels. However, with the formation of the Ministry of Cooperation, Shah expressed confidence that the cooperative sector will play a crucial role in the country’s development over the next 25 years.

To revitalize Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS), the government has undertaken computerization efforts, linking them with District Cooperative Banks, State Cooperative Banks, and NABARD. This move will enable online audits of PACS, allowing them to engage in various businesses, including becoming Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs).

In a bid to strengthen cooperatives further, the government has decided to create three new multi-state societies. One society will focus on exporting farmers’ produce, another will associate small farmers with seed production, and the third will market organic products nationwide and globally.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also plans to establish a cooperative university for cooperative education and a National Cooperative Database. Moreover, a new national cooperative policy will be formulated before Diwali this year, outlining the future trajectory of cooperatives in the country.

The Multi-State Cooperative Societies Bill has comprehensive provisions aimed at reforming election processes, enhancing transparency, and promoting professionalism among members. It also emphasizes the representation of weaker sections, financial discipline, and ease of doing business. The bill also addresses the redemption of government shares, liquidation procedures, and the enforcement of the Banking Regulation Act on co-operative banks.

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