Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed the Multi-State Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill 2023 which seeks to strengthen cooperatives by making their functioning more transparent, introducing a system of regular elections and prohibiting appointment of related persons.
Minister of State Cooperation B L Verma moved the Multi-State Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2023 for consideration and passage in Rajya Sabha.
The bill, which had been approved by Lok Sabha on July 25, 2023, was passed in Rajya Sabha by voice vote.
While replying to queries on the bill, Verma said that the bill provides for norms for appointment of employees, which ensures that there is no nepotism practices.
He said that India’s target of becoming a 5-trillion dollar economy cannot be achieved without the progressive role of cooperative sector.
Noting that there is a limit for the private sector when it comes to employment generation, he said that the cooperative sector can spur jobs as the government is strengthening the cooperatives, by expanding their sphere of work into areas like LPG and petrol pump dealerships. The bill seeks to establish a ‘Cooperative Election Authority’ with a view to introduce electoral reforms in the cooperative sector.
It will consist of a chairperson, vice-chairperson and members not exceeding three to be appointed by the central government.
As per the data published by the NCUI, there are about 8.6 lakh cooperatives in the country, out of which active Primary Agricultural Cooperatives (PACs) are around 63,000.
In January, the government had decided to establish three new multi-state cooperative societies to promote organic products, seeds and exports.
As per the statement of objects and reasons of the bill, a new clause has been inserted to set up Cooperative Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Development Fund for revival of sick multi-state cooperative societies.
The bill also provides for concurrent audit for multi-state cooperative societies, mechanism for redressal of complaints, appointment of one or more cooperative ombudsman and cooperative information officer.
Further, it provides for an increase in monetary penalties that will be imposed on these societies in case of contravention of the provisions.
Another provision is for filing of applications, documents, returns, statements, statement of accounts in electronic form.